First, we should review the notion of property. Legal forms of property can differ, depending on the
organization of a society and its state system. Classification based on the type of property distinguishes
between material (real estate and movables) and intangible property.
Intellectual property is a subtype of intangible property and is protected by copyright and other
also differs depending on the product variety and, in general, is very complicated. Appropriation of other
people’s ideas and written works is quite common nowadays, as it is very difficult to prove authorship of
intellectual property – this task requires extensive efforts and time. On the other hand, the chances that
somebody else will have a similar idea are quite high - this is why sometimes it is very difficult to tell
with certainty who is the genuine author. However, there are universally accepted mechanisms to protect
intellectual property by copyright, patents and other tools to safeguard commercial secrets.
Copyright. Initially copyright covered written products only. Today its sphere of application has
expanded to embrace other forms used to express ideas: e.g., works of art, movies, audio and video
products, computer programs. In developed countries, a copyright is valid within the lifetime of an author,
and 70 years after his or her death. Nobody can use a copyright-protected product without special
permission from the author or, if the author has died or sold the copyright, from other copyright holders,
for example, the author’s heirs.
the most visible sector being that of show business. Sales of pirated audio and video discs are quite a
common sight. Another example of copyright violation is the presentation of Azerbaijan songs by
Turkish television channels as original Turkish products.
The Turkish cell phone company Turkcell used one of the songs by a popular Azerbaijan singer and
intervention of Ms. Dadasheva changed the situation. The company settled out of court.
Patents. Patents differ from copyright, as patents protect inventions rather than artistic, textual or media
products. Patents are valid for 20 years from the time of registration, and authorize patent holders to use
their inventions in their own interests. At the same time, an inventor can sell a patent or issue a license for
its use by another party.. A patent prohibits the disclosure even of components of an invention. After the
expiry of a patent’s term, the invention becomes societal property.
Production secrets. Secrets should in principle not be disclosed, but, unlike copyrights and patents, if
secrets are disclosed they lose their status and are not protected by the law. The term ‘production secret’
usually refers to a product at development stage, which later is to be protected by a patent. Different
enterprises might produce similar products and compete for a patent, but at the development stage, they
should protect their secrets themselves both out of legal and ethical considerations.
Trademark. Intellectual property also includes trademarks and brands. In accordance with its marketing
strategy, any enterprise tends to brand its products with a trademark. These trademarks are considered to
be intellectual property and are protected by the law.
Truthfulness in advertising
We all see and hear persistent commercials, signboards and announcements every day on television and
market their product. Unfortunately, many businesspersons resort to unethical methods. Advertisements
sometimes aim to deceive shoppers and force certain products upon them. Misleading consumers in this
way may ultimately give them a lower opinion of the advertisers.
R.T. de George, Business Ethics, volume 1, Progress Group Publishing House, St.Petersburg – Moscow, 2001, p. 501
create better conditions for the sale of goods. It goes without saying that the function of an advertisement
is not limited to the provision of information. Through a commercial, the manufacturer attempts to lure a
customer to buy his product in preference to another, by forming a certain positive opinion of the product
among consumers. In other words, a commercial performs several functions at a time. Below we will try
to discuss three unethical methods, used in advertising:
false and/or deliberately confusing commercials;
inducement to buy a certain product by use of advertising playing unfairly on the feelings of
Many commercials stand closer to a lie than the truth. If a commercial provides false information and its
advertising agency resorts to lying, there is no moral justification. There are examples in the advertising
of numerous products sold in the market. For example, information given on the composition of many
foodstuffs, such as vegetable oil, sausages, soft drinks, etc., does not always correspond to reality.
Some commercials deceive without uttering a single word. Customers judge the product’s quality by a
can find numerous illustrations to the contrary. For example, a product entitled “chicken broth”, with an
attractive picture of a chicken on the packaging, contains no chicken meat at all. Such marketing fails to
meet any ethical standards.
Even without giving false information or confusing pictures, some types of commercial can deceive and
to arrive at wrong conclusions. Makers of such commercials try to shift the blame onto the information
recipients who came to the wrong (but intended) conclusions. Such claims cannot be wholly accepted. For
example, many manufacturers of vegetable oils stress that their product does not contain any cholesterol.
Strictly speaking, this is correct, but a customer not well versed in chemistry will still have an incorrect
perception of this product. In fact cholesterol is only found in animal fats, hence vegetable oils are
cholesterol-free by definition. However, producers of such commercials deliberately distort this
information and the results of such deception are obvious. This trick can not be justified by ethical norms,
because, even if this commercial does not lie, it definitely resorts to deception.
Attempts to influence a person’s will through particular methods of advertising also contradict ethical
and all kinds of cunning ruses is amoral. But how can advertisements influence people’s behavior in this
The results of a number of psychological tests provide evidence that in addition to visual and verbal
include any information into a video clip, film, television program or melody. A person seeing the
advertisement may not realize that he or she has seen the information or been influenced by the
advertisement, but this information has in any case been recorded into the memory. Such advertising is
known as “subliminal” and can influence our wishes and behavior even beyond our own volition.
a page of a magazine or newspaper. But we can not get rid of a subliminal advertisement. Such an
intrusion, distorting human free will, cannot be accepted by ethical standards.
There are numerous commercials which are apparently produced for children. They advertise, for
and inexperienced kids who can not tell a lie from the truth, in fact, they target parents. The main purpose
is to get the children to force their parents to buy the product advertised. How acceptable is such
Tom L. Beuchamp, Manupulative Advertising, in Business & Professional Ethics Journal, 3 (Spring / Summer 1984) pp. 1-