Intellectual Property and Business Insurance

Before you start on this assignment, 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, as discussed in the background readings. In addition, be sure to read the background material 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.  You are an aspiring singer/songwriter and while surfing the internet, you come across the sheet music for a song you think will display your talents well. You don’t see any notice of copyright on the webpage or the sheet music. You notice the songwriter’s name and after doing some internet research determine that he has been dead for some 22 years. You decide to record a video of you singing the song, and you post it to a YouTube-like internet site. A few weeks later, you receive an email from an attorney informing you that you are in violation of copyright law, and if you do not immediately take down the video, the songwriter’s estate will pursue legal remedies. What do you think? Did you do anything wrong? Are you in violation of copyright law? Explain. Now suppose you own a warehouse in an industrial district. This year you’ve installed the latest sprinkler and other fire remediation measures. You’re proud of the prevention steps you’ve taken, especially when you look at the neighboring warehouse where the owner has installed the bare minimum to comply with fire department regulations. You decide to call your insurance agent and ask if you can take out fire insurance on the neighboring warehouse. Your insurance agent is sympathetic to having a neighbor who doesn’t seem to care as much as you about fire safety, but he tells you he can’t sell you such insurance, and he doesn’t think any ethical agent will. Why not? What principle of insurance law is involved? You are the owner of a restaurant and have a special recipe for a marinade that you use for rotisserie chicken. Your rotisserie chicken is a big hit, especially in the take-out market, and comprises some 60% of your business. You decide that you need some kind of intellectual property protection for your marinade recipe. Would you recommend a patent, trademark, copyright, or a trade secret? Explain your reasoning, and the steps you might take to protect your marinade recipe from competitors. When you bought your business, a complicated custom-made packing machine was included in the sale. You believe that if the packing machine were destroyed that it would cost you $125,000 to replace. You are looking to change your property insurance and the new insurance agent is relying on you to provide a value for the packing machine. You are considering two options. One is to purchase a policy that insures your machinery for $50,000. You figure this will lower the premium and it will save money on your insurance bills. Frankly, you doubt the machine will fail anytime soon. The other option you are considering is insuring your machinery for $200,000. You figure if you get this policy, you will pay more for the insurance, but if your machinery is destroyed, you will not only get back enough money to purchase new machinery, but a $75,000 bonus to boot. For both of these options, what kind of payment do you think you would receive if your machinery is destroyed and the actual value of your machinery is established? 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 some companies might buy his system (at least for comedy purposes). Your friend wants to get a patent on “Beverage-Based Management.” Based on your reading in this module, do you think his idea could be patented? Explain why or why not. If you do not think a patent is possible, discuss if there would be another way to protect his “Beverage-Based Management” idea.

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