Intellectual property rights are critical to many California businesses, especially those that are involved in some kind of creative or technical enterprise. According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, industries where intellectual property is critical contribute 40% of the country’s gross domestic product, a number that is only likely to rise given the importance of idea protection to technological development. However, attitude surveys continue to show that while consumers understand that IP is important in theory, they remain willing to engage in some violations of IP on a regular basis for a number of reasons. In addition, even businesses that could benefit from IP rights may not fully understand why.

According to the Center for Intellectual Property, a vast majority of people recognize that intellectual property rights are important. In the EU, 97% of people feel this way as do 96% of South Korean consumers. Nevertheless, a full 41% of South Korean consumers had purchased counterfeit products at some time, according to a survey, and the number of counterfeit purchasers rose in the EU as well. The survey found that several factors influenced people’s approach to intellectual property. People were more likely to purchase fake items if they believed the original would never be available to them through a legitimate purchase.

Young people were more likely to buy counterfeit items or download pirated material online, but they also showed more interest and knowledge in obtaining licensed content. In the EU, for example, 27% of 15- to 24-year-olds downloaded pirated content, but 41% also purchased legitimate content online.

Intellectual property rights can be even more important when companies want to protect their ideas from competitive businesses that want to enter the market. An IP attorney may provide advice and guidance on how companies can use patents, trademarks and copyrights to protect their ideas.