Matt has really gotten me thinking on this issue. He writes about intellectual property and suggests that the term obscures everything it is attached to and that it encourages us to think about information as a thing which is owned. Somehow we have to recognize the fact that very little information is actually worth “owning.” Generally information is valuable only for sharing because when it is shared it tends to grow. Where that is the case there is no reason to retain more rights than mere attribution.
There are a few things that are worth patenting, but don’t use the patent list as a way of chosing what should be patented since it includes things like this. Try reading the comments here to learn more about some of the misuse of patent law.
I also think that there is a place for copyrights and trademarks, but just because there is a trademark should not mean that I cannot use the words Microsoft and Windows, even together (Microsoft Windows) without fear of being penalized.
I guess what this all adds up to is the inevitable, and worn-out conclusion that these areas of law are basicaly broken. Perhaps it is because of the introduction of such a vague term as “intellecutal property.”