Ideas cannot be owned

Everything you just read is bullshit. (All four words of it).

Ideas CAN be owned under UK, US, and European intellectual property law. Not all ideas, only some; some ideas cannot be owned, only their "expressions". Most importantly, this ownership only extends for a limited time. So, even if some invented the idea of selling chickens (which, if it had't already been "invented", would be valid as the subject of a US patent on a business method, as is the Amazon "One Click" patent), then only one company would sell chickens for some 20 years after they came up with the idea. Let's look at some ideas that can be owned:


Literary works, per se, are copyrighted, and the actual text, and variants thereof, are copyright. The real kicker is that under the Berne convention, characters, plots, and storylines are also property. So, you can't write a story too like someone else's, even if every actual word is your own work. Sorry kids, no stories featuring Capt. Cipard and Lt. Cmmdr. Kirer.

Visual and Auditory Arts

Again, the only "ideas" here are images and music that are too alike the originals to be anything but "indirect copies", (AFAIK...and I know less about US and European copyright law than I wold like).


The "idea" owned here is the affiliation with a particular vendor. This only extends as far as owning their name and marks as registered, for a particular market, and once again, marks so alike as to confuse. (Warning: EU and UK only. Don't know about the US, but I believe that it is the same)


I always save the best for last: Patents represent complete monopoly on ideas and their use. For instance, Remington own the rights to the idea of plucking womens' hair out with rotating springs, in Europe. No-one can make anything that embodies this invention without their say-so, they can't sell it, and anyone who has an unauthorised item embodying the idea, in the UK, can be required to deliver it up to Remington. If you want another example: the cipher IDEA is patented in Europe and the USA, so you can't employ the idea of performing certain mathematical operations in a certain order, except for private non-commerical use. Business ideas? It now only takes one click to own them too, in the USA.
A note on jurisdictions
When I talk of "Europe" in realtion to patents, I mean the states contracting to the European Patent Convention; when I talk of "Europe" in relation to any other intellectual property, I mean the EU.