Module 4 – Case
Intellectual Property and Insurance
To start on this assignment, first make sure that you understand the distinctions and legal issues involved in the four main types of intellectual property—patents, trade secrets, copyrights, and trademarks. Miller (2008) and Bouchoux (2001) cover all four of these types of intellectual property, but if you are still unclear about any of these concepts there are several other sources in the “Optional Readings” list that will also be useful for this assignment. In addition, make sure to read DuBoff’s (2004) chapter on business insurance. You will need to cite at least one source from the background materials in each answer, and include at least three total references from the background materials in your paper.
Once you have thoroughly reviewed the readings in the background materials and are comfortable with the concepts of intellectual property, write a four to five page paper addressing the questions regarding these five scenarios:
- Suppose you run into a friend who has a new idea for a business or product every time you see him. This time he is convinced he has invented a cutting-edge new management system called “Beverage-Based Management” whereby employees improve their performance by drinking high-caffeine energy drinks with a shot of vodka during their lunch breaks. Your friend provides a pile of research studies showing that caffeine can increase alertness and productivity while alcohol can reduce inhibitions and increase communication between employees. You are a bit skeptical of his idea but think at least some companies might buy his system (at least for comedy purposes). Your friend wants to get a patent on “Beverage-Based Management.” Would you advise that he seek a patent for this idea? If not, what other form of intellectual property protection might be a better choice for your friend?
- Your business owns a piece of heavy machinery that is worth $200,000. However, the cost of insuring the full $200,000 value of your machinery is more than your business can currently afford. So instead you tell the insurance company that the machinery is worth $100,000 and buy a cheaper policy. Then there is a fire at your factory and the $200,000 heavy machinery is completely destroyed. However you are at least slightly relieved since you hope the insurance company will at least pay the $100,000 that you told the insurance company the machinery was worth even though this will only cover half the damage. But after reading up on business insurance in DuBoff (2004) can you really be certain the insurance company will pay up when they find out that you intentionally undervalued the machinery?
- You find some sheet music on a webpage, and you cannot find any copyright information on the webpage at all. You do a word search on the title of the song and also check a federal registry of copyrights and cannot find this song. You and some musician friends like this song and plan to record it. Since the song was not in any federal registry and no copyright information was given on the webpage where you found the song, are you legally free to record and perform the song for money, or are their legal liabilities you still may face for using this song?
- The An family owns a famous Vietnamese restaurant in Los Angeles called Crustacean which is famous for their garlic noodles. Unlike other dishes on the menu, the garlic noodles are cooked in a separate “Secret Kitchen” where only immediate members of the An family are allowed. Suppose one of the members of the An family goes on vacation to New York and eats at a restaurant and finds that this restaurant’s garlic noodles taste almost exactly the same as those served at Crustacean. They also recognize one of the waiters at this restaurant as one who used to work at Crustacean (but is not a member of the An family). Do trade secret laws give the An family any legal protection for their garlic noodle recipes? If so, what kind of information or evidence do you think the An family would need in order to successfully sue this New York restaurant for stealing their trade secrets?
- Suppose you are an engineer, and one day you decide to take apart your iPhone. After playing around with the wiring and circuits, you find a way to increase the amount of time the iPhone can operate before needing to be recharged. You try the same method with other smartphones such as Samsung, but your method only works for iPhones. You successfully obtain a patent from the U.S. Patent Office for your new method for improving the function of iPhones. Will this patent allow you to manufacture your own brand of smartphones identical to the iPhone but with extended time before needing to be recharged? If not, how else might you be able to make money from your iPhone?
- Answer the assignment questions directly.
- Stay focused on the precise assignment questions. Don’t go off on tangents or devote a lot of space to summarizing general background materials.
- Make sure to use reliable and credible sources as your references. Articles published in established newspapers or business journals/magazines are preferred. If you find articles on the Internet, make sure they are from a credible source.
- Reference your sources of information with both a bibliography and in-text citations. See the Student Guide to Writing a High-Quality Academic Paper, including pages 13 and 14 on in-text citations. Another resource is the “Writing Style Guide,” which is found under “My Resources” in the TLC Portal.