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Could a long-dead inventor's intellectual property be at risk?

There is perhaps nobody in history who towers over today's worlds of art and science as much as Leonardo Da Vinci. Even though we are approaching the 500th anniversary of his death, Leonardo still appeals to modern audiences in California and around the world as one of the most famous artists who ever lived - as well as an inventor who was light years ahead of his time.

As such, interest in his work is still strong. In fact, an exhibition of items at a Chinese science museum is drawing big crowds in Shanghai. Italian engineers studied Leonardo's blueprints and built a variety of items such as tools and transportation vehicles -- some that perhaps had not been seen for centuries-- for the exhibition.

The exhibit is raising questions among entrepreneurs about the idea of intellectual property. Leonardo's designs are several centuries old; the master is no longer around to assert the ownership of his ideas any longer. However, as one expert points out, both China and Italy are members of an international intellectual property rights alliance. While the Italians who recreated Leonardo's artifacts did not design them, they are the current copyright owners. So it would not be prudent for anyone to attempt to profit off these ideas without permission.

Intellectual property is something that can be preserved after its creator's death -- long after, in some cases, as this example shows. Anyone in Sacramento who is concerned about intellectual property rights can consult with an experienced IP attorney to aid them.

Source: CCTV, "Shanghai Da Vinci exhibits raise intellectual property rights questions," Zhang Jun, Aug. 29, 2013

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