Global Intellectual Property Center

Myth 1: Intellectual Property (IP) rights harm the public domain by shrinking it through high prices, artificial barriers to access, and unfair restrictions on speech.

Myth 1: Intellectual Property (IP) rights harm the public domain by shrinking it through high prices, artificial barriers to access, and unfair restrictions on speech.

Fact: IP protections expand the public domain by providing the incentive for artists and inventors to innovate, and then protecting their “creations of the mind” so that they benefit from their hard work and talents. This lifecycle of innovation improves our general welfare by creating jobs (such as publishers, retailers, and support staff), fostering economic growth, and offering products like computers, medicines, or movies that enhance our lives.

Every innovation and work of art expands the public domain. There also increases demand for these products—as well as competition between similar products (e.g. Mac vs. PC)—is what determines the price, not IP rights.

IP rights are in place to ensure inventors and artists receive fair recognition and compensation for their hard work and investment during the term of protection they enjoy. Patents, trademarks and copyrights do this by protecting inventors and artists from theft, whether it is someone selling a fake handbag on the street corner, or another person posting a movie or book online for others to view free of charge. Either way, enforcement of these rights—which some try to paint as “barriers to access” and “restrictions on speech”—ensure the real rights holders receive their just compensation, and are incentivized to keep expanding the public domain through newer works and inventions.