Intellectual property... now there's a real 90's deal. Copyrights, trade marks, patents, have been around for a long while, and are generally understood by most people. However, those legalities didn't encompass concepts, in need of protection, since exploration of virtual world, commenced.
When Internet was born, transmission of ideas exploded. All of a sudden, there was a whole new realm of possibilities to be explored. Idea guys were suddenly in high demand, and money began to flow.
In spirit of competition, we discovered a need to protect ideas, thought processes, and credit card numbers. So, government stepped in and wrote some laws, to protect what is in your head.
Intellectual Property is defined as:
"A product of intellect, that has commercial value, including copyrighted property such as, literary or artisic works, and ideational property, such as patenets, appellations of origins, business methods, and industrial processes."
"Intangible property that is result of creativity (such as, patents, trademarks, or copyrights)."
"The ownership of ideas and control over tangible, or virtual representations of those ideas..."
Concept theft is a problem that is not really talked about much, but it does exist. Remember when Bill Gates introduced Windows, and Steve Jobs accused him of ripping off Apple?
With Internet representing endless possibilities for creativity, it would only stand to reason, that cases of idea stealing should rise, as competition for dominating market shares increases.
If you've got marketable ideas, you'd better know your rights and responsibilities. If you don't, you'll kick yourself when someone steals your million dollar idea out from under you. You need to be legally protected and aware in cyberspace, just as you must in real world. There are people out there, that would rather steal your idea than come up with something original, on their own.
If your desire to succeed brings you to consideration of wire-tapping someone else's brain waves, and making off with their ideas, you should catch up on your reading a bit. The government has taken this matter to heart, and legislated it pretty intensely. You should know your rights as an Internet Intellectual, and penalties for idea stealing.
"The Economic Espionage Act of 1996 ("EEA") contains two separate provisions that criminalize theft or misappropriation of trade secrets. The first provision, codified at 18 U.S.C. § 1831(a), is directed towards foreign economic espionage and requires that theft of trade secret be done to benefit a foreign government, instrumentality, or agent. It states: (a) In general. -- Whoever, intending or knowing that offense will benefit any foreign government, foreign instrumentality, or foreign agent, knowingly - ** (1) steals, or without authorization appropriates, takes, carries away, or conceals, or by fraud, artifice, or deception obtains a trade secret; ** (2) without authorization copies, duplicates, sketches, draws, photographs, downloads, uploads, alters, destroys, photocopies, replicates, transmits, delivers, sends, mails, communicates, or conveys a trade secret; ** (3) receives, buys, or possesses a trade secret, knowing same to have been stolen or appropriated, obtained, or converted without authorization; ** (4) attempts to commit any offense described in any of paragraphs (1) through (3); or ** (5) conspires with one or more other persons to commit any offense described in any of paragraphs (1) through (3), and one or more of such person do any act to effect object of conspiracy, shall, except as provided in subsection (b), be fined not more than $500,000 or imprisoned not more than 15 years, or both. In contrast, second provision, 18 U.S.C. § 1832, makes criminal commercial theft of trade secrets, carried out for purely economic or commercial advantage: