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Definition of Patent from Wikipedia:

A patent is a form of intellectual property. It consists of a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention.

Does Islam allow people to take patent for their intellectual products?
If yes, what complexity a product must have to be allowed to taken patent for?

Everyone will agree that something as simple as "lemonade" cannot be patented. But, for example, consider a bicycle. Suppose that bicycle hadn't been invented, and someone invents it today. Can he patent it, so that everyone that wants to ride bicycle will have to pay him for that? Or, can he forbid riding bicycle all over the world out of a whim? You can thing on a different example, maybe on a more complex invention. Does complexity of the invention change the right to patent? If yes, what is the threshold level?

Is this kind technology hiring/leasing allowed in Islam? Can a knowledge belong to someone, can it be in someone's control? Does Allah permit this?

Please consider the following ayat:

قَالَ إِنَّمَا أُوتِيتُهُ عَلَى عِلْمٍ عِندِي أَوَلَمْ يَعْلَمْ أَنَّ اللَّهَ قَدْ أَهْلَكَ مِن قَبْلِهِ مِنَ القُرُونِ مَنْ هُوَ أَشَدُّ مِنْهُ قُوَّةً وَأَكْثَرُ جَمْعًا وَلَا يُسْأَلُ عَن ذُنُوبِهِمُ الْمُجْرِمُونَ
He said, "I was only given it because of knowledge I have." Did he not know that Allah had destroyed before him of generations those who were greater than him in power and greater in accumulation [of wealth]? But the criminals, about their sins, will not be asked.
Kasas 78 (28/78)

Qaroon thinks that he obtained everything with his ilm (knowledge), but he is wrong. What makes Qaroon wrong? Is this ayat related to our topic? If yes, what do we understand from it?

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This is a quote from a similar question asked in Islam Q&A:

The question was:
What do the Muslim fuqaha’ say about intellectual property rights such as trade names, trademarks, copyright and patents?

And the answer

Firstly: Trade names, trademarks, copyright and patents are all rights which belong exclusively to their owners. In modern times they have come to have a considerable financial value. These rights are recognized according to sharee’ah, and they should not be violated.

Secondly: It is permissible to buy or sell a trade name or a trademark, and to transfer any of them in return for monetary compensation, so long as there is no cheating or deception.

Thirdly: Copyright and patents are protected by sharee’ah. Their owners have the right to buy or sell them and nobody has the right to violate these rights. And Allaah knows best.

And concerning the Aya, What makes Qaroon wrong? is that instead of thanking Allah for the gift he gives him he claimed that he was only given it because of knowledge he have. And known in Islam as "Johood" repudiation of Allah's gift. So that what makes him wrong. And about whether the Aya is related to the topic or not? every thing is from Allah and we are just receivers, so we should to thanks Allah for his gifts. Wallahu alaam.

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Bukhari : Volumn 001, Book 008, Hadith Number 446.

Narated By 'Aisha : Barira came to seek my help regarding her manumission. I told herself you like I would pay your price to your masters but your Al-Wala would be for me."

Her masters said, "If you like, you can pay what remains (of the price of her manumission), (Sufyan the sub-narrator once said), or if you like you can manumit her, but her Al-Wala would be for us. "

When Allah's Apostle came, I spoke to him about it. He said, "Buy her and manumit her. No doubt Al-Wala is for the manumitted."

Then Allah's Apostle stood on the pulpit (or Allah's Apostle ascended the pulpit as Sufyan once said), and said, "What about some people who impose conditions which are not present in Allah's Book (Laws)? Whoever imposes conditions which are not in Allah's Book (Laws), his conditions will be invalid even if he imposed them a hundred times."

The General rule about purchases in Islam is the buyer become owner of the entity and can do whatever he wants to do with it.

The fact Bill Gates abstaining you from reselling your Windows 7 cd on the basis of copyright has no justification in Islam.

Copyright purchases are an altered form of transactions (lately invented), and they do relate to the above case.

Wallaho Alam

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  • There's difference of opinion about this. You need to represent your answer appropriately, and cite your hadith -- where did it come from?
    – ashes999
    Jul 5 '12 at 18:29
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Intellectual property according to Islamic Shariah

There doesn't seem to be any issue with Islamic system regarding giving credit for someone who came up with an original idea or invention. However, there is an issue when the inventor or idea holder tries to enforce his claim of intellectual property through tyranny. Said tyranny is by using the government or the state that belongs to everyone and should be the common protection of everyone's well-being to instead just enforce property claims of a select few. The present patent and intellectual property system enforces so called intellectual property claims by restricting the free flow of information and the use of the concepts and ideas and inventions which all come from Allah and everything belongs to Allah.

So called Intellectual property rights enforcements are an integral part of International “Free Trade Agreements” and the World Trade Organization. The enforcement of these international intellectual property claims will ultimately result in extreme wealth extraction where a few will increase their wealth exponentially while the masses go into wage slavery and poverty. Through enforcement of intellectual property claims, ideas and inventions that belong to and come from Allah only benefit a select few instead of the community at large. Islam is against all forms of tyranny and oppression. The patenting of genetics and DNA can also be quite problematic from an Islamic perspective.

In summary, the Quran states that all sovereignty which includes ideas and inventions belong to Allah. Mankind is Allah’s agent in the dunya. As Allah’s agent in this world, mankind needs to strive to serve Allah for the benefit of humanity and Islam. The government and the state are there to protect the well-being of the community at large, not just a few individuals or organizations. The individuals or organizations that Allah has gifted the knowledge or ideas first should be recognized and compensated with the caveat that it is every Muslim’s innate duty and responsibility to use his might and main, including intellectual main, to benefit the Muslim community and the struggle against the kufar and shirk (Al Quran, Suratil Tawbah).

Hence, in an Islamic sharia system individuals and organizations should be credited and acknowledged for their novelties and inventions, but they have no right to try to use the state to impose so called intellectual property claim tyrannies over the rest of society.

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