Intellectual property is the property created due to original creations. Intellectual property is used by companies, individuals and businesses to protect innovation and creativity which enables them to maintain their competitive advantage. Intellectual property refers to the original creation that needs to be protected to maintain its uniqueness in society. It is developed through a creative process and it is intangible. These traits differentiate the intellectual property from other types of property even though it is handled similarly to other properties in terms of owning, selling or leasing. This shows the need for the legal protection of intellectual property. However, intellectual property has to be valuable and marketable to warrant legal protection. This article examines the reasons why intellectual property requires different legal protections as compared to real or tangible property. It researches on an example of a court case involving intellectual property. The article analyses the Wrench LLC v. Taco Bell Corporation case in the “Ethics: Implied-in-Fact Contract Prevents Unjust Result” section of Ch. 9 in Legal Environment of Business.
The legal protection of intellectual property ensures the safeguard of inventions, artistic works and mind creations from unfair competition. Legal protection of intellectual property also prevents the theft of ideas, concepts, and designs which are a source of competitive advantage in the market place. Intellectual property is among the most valuable asset of the business and needs to be protected to ensure the business offers something new and unique in the market. Since intellectual property is intangible, offering legal protection ensures it can be sold or licensed thus acting as a source of revenue for the business. Legal protection of intellectual property is important in creating a huge and identifiable brand for the business. It protects the idea, concept or design in question against infringement by competitors since the legal protection provides the business with the sole right to use the property. The legal protection of intellectual property allows businesses to obtain important strategic alliances from other firms which boosts their creativity and innovation without losing ownership of their original ideas and creations. Legal protection of intellectual property is important in ensuring the progress and well-being of humanity which is dependent on invention and innovation. As such, the presence of legal protection of intellectual property encourages more investment and financing of innovation and creativity in society.
An example of an intellectual property court case is the Rolls Royce PLC v. United Technologies Corporation. In this case, Rolls Royce sought around $4 billion in damages from the technology company combined with an injunction to prevent further sales of the jet engines particularly the fan blades used in Airbus A380. However, the court issued a summary judgment which favored United Technologies since the court found out that the engine in contention did not infringe the patent from Rolls Royce.
Ideas are vital to the overall success of a business as they assist a company or a business in improving its products, services, and market outreach. However, implementing ideas from other companies or businesses without their consent creates legal problems. Wrench LLC v. Taco Bell Corporation case is among the most famous cases of idea misappropriation that involved Taco Bell and Wrench LLC. In this case, Wrench LLC attributed that Taco Bell had illegally implemented their idea by featuring a live Chihuahua having a feisty attitude in one of the Taco Bell advertisements. The ideas were entitled to be legally protected under the law since Wrench LLC was the original idea and yet Taco Bell went ahead and used the idea in designing its advertisements commercials without involving Wrench LLC or paying for the idea.
Contracts can either be implied in fact or implied in law. The implied in law contract is also known as a quasi-contract and it is very different from the implied in fact contract. Implied in fact contract is an agreement based on an ongoing relationship. In this type of contract, parties act in a manner that indicates their intention to be in a contract with each other even without written or oral written agreement. However, the contract must consist of an acceptance, offer, mutual intent and consideration for the contract to be valid. However, these terms are not stated outrightly but rather inferred by the behavior of the parties involved. On the other hand, implied in law contracts requires the law during the formation of the contract. These agreements are formed because the law demands their formation without seeking the consent or approval of parties’ intentions to uphold justice. In the Wrench LLC v. Taco Bell Corporation case, the type of contract was implied by fact since there were no legal requirements guiding the formation of the agreement at hand.
In the Wrench LLC v. Taco Bell Corporation case, it is clear that the two opposing sides had an implied-in-fact contract. However, one party failed to honor their part of the agreement by failing to pay the other party. This led to a legal case where Wrench LLC accused Taco Bell of idea misappropriation claims. In the case, Wrench LLC claimed that Taco Bell had used its idea of the psycho Chihuahua to create an advertising campaign without purchasing a license to provide the company with exclusive rights to use the character. However, the parties could have done thing differently to protect their individual rights while at the same time avoiding the legal dispute. Taco Bell needed to purchase the license of the character from Wrench LLC prior to using the character in the marketing campaign. Taco Bell needed to purchase the license of the psycho character from Wrench LLC in a bid to fulfill their part of the implied-in-fact contract with Wrench LLC. The contract would have been fulfilled and both parties could have avoided the legal dispute since both parties could have satisfied their part of the contract.
Written contracts are better compared to oral contracts due to the ability to make future references in case of any dispute that might arise in the future. In this case, a written contract between Wrench LLC and Taco Bell could have been vital in providing information on the details of the agreement thus avoiding instances of misunderstanding. The written contract could also be proof in court about the elements that were used in formulating the contract thus solving the dispute without the need for a legal dispute which resulted in hefty fines in form of damages to Taco Bell.
Contracts are important in running a business. However, there are various elements necessary to form a valid contract. The first element needed to form a valid contract is the offer. This refers to the promise made by parties of the contract promising to do or not to do specified actions in the future based on their agreement. The other element is the consideration. This is something of value that is provided by the parties of the agreement in exchange for the specific actions or non-action. The value of the consideration induces the parties of the agreement to enter into the contract and undertake their roles and responsibilities. Another important element is acceptance. This mirrors the terms of the offer and parties agree to undertake their part of the deal. Failure to accept the terms of the contract is regarded as rejection and the party needs to make a counteroffer. The last element is mutuality. This is where both parties agree to the basic terms of the contract and undertake to meet their part of the deal.
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