Sample Research Proposal on on Social Implications of Computing Technology in Intellectual Property

A Proposal for a Research Report on Social Implications of Computing Technology in Intellectual Property


1.1 Purpose

The purpose of the research is to produce a report examining how intellectual property rights can be reconciled with the social implications of computing technology. This proposal has been submitted to fulfill the course requirements of (please fill in your course code, course title and year).

1.2 Background

One of the (Please fill in your course code) requirements is the writing of a formal report on a topic from my major field of study (please fill in your major area of study). This report shall focus on the intellectual property of computing technology. I shall focus on how computing technology can be protected by intellectual property laws keeping in mind that computing technology has extensive social implications. According to World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), intellectual property is any creation or invention of the mind (What is Intellectual Property nd.). Inventions may include names, fictional works, pictures, codes, art works, designs and many others.

In recent times, there has been an increasing awareness of the societal impact of the use of computer technology in many spheres of life (Subrahmanyam et al 2000). Due to readily available cheap computer technology, the use of computers has increased tremendously within the society. The society as well as the economy benefit from technological breakthroughs. However, there are well-founded concerns that the use of technology may give rise to serious problems. Some of the concerns include the effect of computerization on the quality of life, unemployment due to computerization, personal privacy in a digital world as well as the freedom of information. Other issues arising from the widespread use of computer technology include concerns about the ownership and software rights, the manageability of complex computer systems, and the risks associated with, and accountability of such complex systems.

A person or persons are designated as the owners of intellectual property if they acquire the patent rights to a creation of the mind. Initially, it was felt that obtaining patent rights for software programs could have been a laborious process, making it almost impossible for one to obtain a patent (Webbink 2005). Other concerns raised were that patenting programs could cause the industry to stagnate as software programs became proprietary products. The number of software patents issued to individual innovators and companies has increased to unprecedented levels. Currently, companies own numerous software patents. Interestingly, the number of many software patents does not correspond to thousands of groundbreaking innovations. Rather, individuals and companies are patenting small tweaks made on existing code (Webbink 2005).

While owning intellectual property rights is necessary for the innovator to get a return on his or her ideas, intellectual property rights are fast becoming a barrier to new entrants in the technology scene. Webbink (2005) states that overprotection of patents may be stifling the technology industry. Big companies with huge resources have thousands of patents, some of which have a weak legal basis, with which they bar new entrants. Big tech companies are entering into cross-licensing agreements, where they commit no to sue each other for patent infringement, locking out the start-ups which are pursued vigorously in case of patent infringement. This system is creating an exclusive club of big technology companies, killing the possibility of small companies ever making it big. It is becoming apparent that software intellectual property is not only killing innovation but also it is denying consumers choice by rising the entry barriers into the market too high (Webbink 2005).

1.3 Scope

My proposed report will focus on the social implications of computing technology. The report will mainly focus on the intellectual property of software. The report shall try to establish the linkages, if any, between computing intellectual property ownership and the society. The report will focus on the ease of and access to technology for the ordinary person. The report shall also present the effects that the widespread use of computing technology is likely to have on the quality of life of the users.


2.1 Approach

My proposed report shall begin by providing a working definition of the terms: social impact, computing technology and intellectual property. The report will critically look into computing technology’s social impact. This will then be linked with computing technology intellectual property ownership. The report shall not only focus on the positive societal impacts of computing technology, but also on its negative impacts on society. In addition, the report shall focus on the ease of access to computing technology as well as the costs associated with the use of computing technology. An analysis shall be done to determine the linkages between the societal impacts of computing technology and intellectual property ownership of the technology. The effect of intellectual property ownership of computing technology on the use, access and cost of the technology shall be examined.

2.2 Result

My proposed report shall provide working definitions of the three important parameters – computing technology, societal impacts and intellectual property. The report shall then provide an in-depth examination of the impacts, both negative and positive, that computing technology has on the society. The report shall then try to establish the connection between intellectual property ownership and the societal impacts caused by the technology. Lastly, a summary of all the salient points that are presented will be provided. The proposed report shall fulfill the formal report requirements of (please fill in the name of your course and code)

2.3 Statement of work

            To accomplish the stated aims of this research, the following tasks shall be done: (The approximate time required to complete each of the tasks is provided in brackets at the end of the task)

Task 1: Research and provide working definitions of societal impact, computing technology and intellectual property (1 hour).

Task 2: Perform through research and provide all of the positive impacts of computing technology on the society (3 hours).

Task 3: Perform through research and provide all of the negative impacts of computing technology on the society (3 hours).

Task 4: Research and synthesize information to determine the positive impacts that ownership of the intellectual rights of computing technology has on society (4 hours)

Task 5: Determine the negative impacts that ownership of the intellectual rights of computing technology is likely to have on society (4 hours)

Task 6: Produce and deliver a presentation at a place and time to be determined (6 hours)

Task 7: Produce a formal report as per the course requirements and deliver it at the stipulated time (8 hours)


3.1 Personnel

In accordance with the course requirements, I shall perform all of the research as well as report writing alone. I have the requisite knowledge and skills to research and write a formal report as per the course requirements. In addition, I have access to my course professors who shall offer guidance and assistance as need arises.

3.2 Facilities and equipment

The information required for this report shall be obtained by literature review. The university provides books as well as digital resources in the library, which can be used to obtain the necessary information. The library has high-speed internet connectivity, which will be useful for my research.

  1. COSTS

4.1 Fiscal

As indicated in section 2.3 above, the project shall require 29 hours of my time. The library internet services I will use are covered by the library fee paid at the beginning of the semester. I shall purchase stationery to help in indexing the research material. The cost of the course is covered by three (3) credit hours of the tuition fee paid. The table shown below is a summary of the projected cost of the report.

Table 1: Project Cost Data

Item Quantity Cost Total ($)
Labor 29 hours $80/hour 2320
Stationery 2 pens and 2 notebooks 10 10
Facilities- library fees 15 hours Insert appropriate cost
Course 3 hours Insert appropriate cost


4.2 Time

            This report shall be written in the last five weeks of the quarter. The required deliverables will be presented as follows:

  • Presentation – to be done at the instructor’s time and place of choosing.
  • Report – will be delivered on (insert appropriate date)



5.1 Summary

This course requires the writing and presentation of a formal report in my area of study. The social implication of computing technology vis-a-vis intellectual property ownership is an emerging area of academic interest. There is an increasing awareness of the social implications of utilizing technology. Approval of this proposed report will help me to get more information about an intriguing area of my field of study.

5.2 Contact

For more information, please email me at: or call:

5.3 Sources used

Subrahmanyam, K., Kraut, R., Greenfield, P. & Gross, E. (2000). The Impact of Home Computer Use on Children’s Activities and Development. Children and Computer Technology, 10 (2), pp. 123-144. Web. 7 Mar 2014. Retrieved from

Webbink, M. (2005). A new paradigm for intellectual property rights in software. Duke Law &     Technology Review. Web. 7 Mar 2014. No.12 Retrieved from

What is Intellectual Property? (nd.). WIPO. Web. 7 Mar 2014. Retrieved from