--Bona al la encycla lorica.
The guilds of Lorica are very possessive of their intellectual secrets, called guild secrets, and patent anything they can. Generally this includes anything related to:
- the establishment and structure of the guilds and their orders;
- their discoveries of what types of moieta each species of faera possesses;
- methodologies for preserving, husbanding and generating additional mana and moieta;
- technologies in support of creating spells, including but not limited to control and permissioning and engineering;
- spell effects
Some of these patents are held by all the guilds; most are held by the individual guilds, and focus on the particular moieties and spells that make each guild distinct. The patents provide an extra level of protection for the guilds, in addition to their allegiances with other guilds, their use of specialization, and their orders of spellcasters.
The patents are secrets - their contents are not shared with the general public. It is generally impossible for anyone, except those in the guilds’ IP enforcement associations and relevant court officials, from knowing the details. Hence sects will generally not know what exactly the guilds have claimed as their intellectual property, thereby making it hard for their spellshapers to work around them. The general public will generally not be aware of just how all-encompassing and broad the guilds’ intellectual property claims really are.
Enforcement is usually done by courts of the local state. Most states in the world of Lorica are beholden to the major guilds and so the judges and nobles presiding over cases of alleged IP theft almost always side with the guilds, to the extent that in many cases it is a show trial. In some cases the nobles and judges may outright declare the verdict without even opening the case in court. In the ‘independent states’ of the world where the guilds have far less power, the guilds may resort to bribing nobles and judges, or attempt to make their own members into the state’s judges, so that while it is ostensibly safer for the accused in these regions, the guilds still exert tremendous influence.
The guilds are able to enforce their patents quite easily as all they have to do, in most nations’ courts, is demonstrate that the guild is able to cast the same spell as the defendant was accused of having cast, or use the same moieta or methodologies, and that they already hold a patent for the same, and would then almost always be successful in claiming that their intellectual properties had been infringed upon. Since each guild has an extensive repertoire of spells and patents, they will generally already have patented whatever it is some upstart sect manages to come up with.
The guilds use the alleged need for secrecy of their patents to their advantage as they can thereby enforce their patents quite broadly. For instance, by claiming they have identified the moieta of a particular species of faera, they can then win an indictment against a spellcaster using any moieta from that faera, even if the moieta being used was one the guild had no knowledge about. The courts would be pressed to accept the claim from the guilds as the guilds can claim ‘guild secrets’ to not share to the court what they actually know about the faera. This secrecy also means that patent courts are usually held in secret, ostensibly to prevent guild secrets from becoming public knowledge.
The guilds will often have conflicting claims, but these are generally handled out of the courts through arbitration by the United Guilds. With the aid of the Interguild Front, this allows them to remain as a single bloc when dealing with other states throughout the world.
Those found guilty of guild-secret infringement are generally sentenced to join the prosecuting guild as an indentured member, the rationale being that those possessing the guild secrets must be kept within the guild lest they spill the secrets to others. This forced guild membership is for life.
A guild member has a set of rules that must be followed, many of which can be very strict for guild members that have been stigmatized. Additional rules, penalties and penances can be placed on guild members at guild masters’ discretion, and generally guild masters will not shirk from placing heavy burdens and restrictions on members brought in via an indictment for guild-secret infringement. They will generally have to obey the commands of the guild’s masters (as do all guild apprentices and associates). They will generally be set to work within a guild hold where they will be kept under constant watch by other guild members, will have no opportunity to escape or to speak to non-guild members. They will generally not be trusted with anything important, such as guild secrets (meaning they generally cannot become guild spellshapers), guild weapons (spells) (meaning they cannot become guild spellcasters) and promotion to any rank above associate. They will generally spend the rest of their lives prepping parts of guild spells as a spellcrafter. The guild can apply additional penalties should their arbitrary rules not be followed, and even if they manage to escape, the guild can call upon the local state to organize a manhunt. Because of these onerous rules, in a world where slavery is nominally abolished in most states, those indicted of guild-secret infringement are among the few who are rendered de-facto slaves.
Unlike with regular members, the guild can treat indentured members very poorly, such as making them work without pay, or paying them and then only allowing them to purchase goods from vendors within the guild-hall at very high prices, or garnishing their wages right back. Because of this, having indentured members can become quite profitable for guilds, and so some of them have resorted to using underhanded tactics to acquire additional members - framing them, accusing them of casting spells and then bringing forth bribed witnesses or planted evidence, with the sole intention of forcing these victims into indentured servitude.
Escaped indentured members are rare as the reach of the guilds extends to the majority of states, and they may have other means of hunting down the fleeing member or making it nearly impossible to escape. And if they do manage to escape, they generally do not tell of it (unless they’re in a state with poor or hostile relations with the guild), because the locals may decide to turn over the escaped member back to the guild for a bounty, and there may be both bounty hunters as well as true guild members on the lookout for escaped members. Those within the guild system generally would not tell of this to those outside the guild, and so the general public (as well as even the nobles and rulers of the states) are generally kept in the dark as to the abuses experienced by the indentured members.
The rationale given by the guilds, and which is wholly accepted by most of the states throughout Lorica, is that protection of intellectual property allows the guilds to monetize their discoveries and inventions and thus incentivizes the guilds to be more inventive, which allows the guilds to better help society - as well as to ensure quality control (as the guilds will want to maintain their good name).
In practice, the guilds use their intellectual property claims to shut down all the sects that would attempt to create their own magic, thereby stifling any and all competition except from the other guilds. And because the other guilds focus on totally different topics, there’s not really any competition between the guilds. The six guilds are essentially all industry monopolies, having legally destroyed their competition, and thus have no incentive to come up with anything new, and are able to greatly limit the use of their spells and jack up prices, as they have such great leverage in negotiations with the states. As such the guilds’ property rights claims are effectively worsening the quality of life for peoples throughout the world.
And not only is magic affected, but a great many other things as well; the guilds have patented a great many engineering constructs (such as the steam engine) and then left them unused, so that such technologies could not pose a threat to the guilds’ livelihood. The rationale here being that such technologies could be incorporated in the spells the guilds are working on and hence the guilds would be hurt by their being used in any and all applications.
It is because of this legal framework that the world of Lorica has essentially been stuck in medieval stasis (in non-spell technologies) and in another stasis (albeit at a much higher level) for spells. For as long as the guilds are allowed to paralyze technological advancement in this way, nothing can improve. The overturning of this predominant system is at the center of the story of Lorica: Chronicles of Revelation.