I decided to start this thread because it's a subject that interests me, and we started getting on a tangent when talking about Schaller and how some builders have been modifying their Hannes bridge to equip on guitar's they are building. Schaller does not make 7/8 string versions yet, nor fanned fret versions, yet they have sent cease and desist letters to such builders claiming patent violation. Anyway, I sympathize with the utilitarian intentions of intellectual property but feel such laws ultimately impede utilitarian results. There are no doubt cases that support intellectual property as a necessary catalyst to create some pretty amazing products. Nonetheless, I believe on a whole, the net costs outweigh the net benefits. There are three common form of intellectual property - copyrights, patents, and trademark. Related but not exactly the same are things like trade secrets and non-disclosure agreements. I think copyright and patent are the items we should focus on, but anything is fair game. Copyright covers copying or creating a derivative work of some informational good, outside of "fair use", without the permission of the author. Patents cover inventions, whether that be a design or a process. The idea behind each is that with exclusive rights to manufacturer and distribute the product, or license others to do so, there is an economic incentive to invent such goods. There are two problems with this approach. One is that it tramples on traditional rights, which is damaging for individual freedom. The other is that in addition to creating incentives for innovation, intellectual property law creates disincentives for all kinds of economic activity, including innovative ones. In the latter case, I actually believe the net harm outweighs the net benefits. As for trampling on individual rights, the root of the concept of property is to allow individuals or groups exclusive control over scarce resources. Without the concept of property rights, conflict is inevitable - any desirable good can only be controlled by possessing it, which is both vague and fleeting. For some goods, simple possession is completely impossible. Property also allows individual freedom - since we are in constant contact with scarce goods, action would be near impossible if it were required to seek a consensus or even majority of any population's permission to interact with such scarce goods in your desired manner. As far as net costs, we see this all the time. With patents, patent trolls, drawn-out legal battles over arbitrary patents, companies able to enforce relatively obvious patents against companies working hard to provide desired goods to consumers at lower cost (or at all), individuals having to pay big money for patent searches to make sure they can make a product without getting sued, individuals and companies having to patent their ideas strictly as defense against someone else patenting it and preventing them from legally continuing to produce and sell the product they invented. With copyright, carbon copies are one thing. I get that you'd want protection, even though there is a first arriver advantage. But the derivative work stipulation blurs the line. In a very loose interpretation, one could "own" a 3 note melody for 150 years. If we had to wait 50+ years every time we wanted to write something that could vaguely be considered derivative of something we heard someone else write, there would be very little progress. Luckily, copyright is rarely enforced to such a degree. Another aspect I don't like about intellectual property law is its arbitrary nature. This leads to it disincentivizing work. It is unclear if you are breaking the law in certain cases. Or you may go through the expense of obtaining a patent, only to discover in court later on that your design is too "obvious" to hold a valid patent, even though it was approved by the patent office. Additionally, the time limits granted are completely arbitrary. How were they selected as the optimal time lengths necessary to incentivize the correct amount of innovation? If they are so great, why not make them perpetrual - I think the concession that they SHOULD expire acknowledges that the exclusive right is harmful to economic activity and that its incentive only goes so far. Nevertheless, due to corporate personhood and the way copyright law is written, copyrights ARE de facto perpetual. Yet the majority of music, for instance, has very little inspiration drawn from seeking financial gain through exclusive rights. Individuals are producing songs in their free time with no promise of making a living selling their music or seeking to sell their copyrights to a corporation. Intellectual property comes up frequently in music and gear. In music, there is copyright and the constant claims of copying styles, melodies, or even direct recordings. For instance, Meshuggah clones, Satriani vs. Coldplay, and Vanilla Ice vs. Queen. Where exactly is the line of a derivative work vs. an original? Is this completely arbitrary? How do you feel about the examples mentioned, and do you have others to offer? As for gear, there's guitar body styles, mechanical devices/designs, perhaps even new instruments. Consider Gibson suing others for stealing their body designs, or Floyd Rose's patent on their bridge design. I'm surprised that Fernandez and Sustainiac haven't legally barred one or the other from the market. Any famous cases of gear getting outlawed? Like a patent on cascading gain stages or devices that were the first to do ____? Amp modeling and profiling are another area. This is a particularly funny one to me. Apparently attempting to model or profile an amp's sound is ok, but using the trademarked name of the amp in the modeler is not. Hence all the Treadplate, Blackface Double, USA Lead, Angel Fball, etc. Then Kemper's profiling process is patented, while the process itself is an attempt to basically "steal" the response of amps designed by other companies. They're protecting their exclusive right to "steal" others' sound! Anyway, my opinion is just my opinion. However you stand on this issue, prevent your argument or your simple opinion!