What You Need to Know About Intellectual Property Rights
Innovation is what drives us forward as a species.
From the seeds of innovation come miraculous inventions in medicine and technology, as well as artistical expressions and creative products that empower, inspire and provide joy and entertainment the whole world over.
Yet where innovation exists, there is always the risk of its exploitation, misuse or abuse. Intellectual property rights aid “creators” protect their work, from artistic expressions of literature, music or paintings, to inventions, products, symbols and even brand names.
Such “right” protect the owner of the intellectual property from having their creation unfairly or illegally used by others without the express permission to do so.
Understanding intellectual property rights is an important topic for entrepreneurs, business owners, and consumers alike. Knowing what types of rights may be bestowed upon certain types of properties, and what those rights may mean for you as the “owner” or “user” of the property can help you stay out of legal trouble or protect that which is yours.
Why Intellectual Property Rights are Important
Simply publishing or releasing a creative work, invention or discovery isn’t enough to protect it from infringers. These rights drive innovation and provide an incentive for individuals and organizations to create new and exciting works, with the security that their creations will be protected.
Even with proof that a creator was “first to market” or with a documented first publication date, the creator would not be necessarily granted certain intellectual property rights that would have been available had they filed for a trademark, copyright or a patent. This leaves the creator vulnerable to others “legally” copying their work or building upon it, offering it for their benefit.
Common Types of Intellectual Property
- Service mark
Copyright refers the exclusive right granted to the creator of a “creative work” such as art, graphics, music, lyrics, or other literary creation including but not limited to books, poems, blogs, articles, etc.
These rights give the creator the exclusive right to use, reproduce, publish, distribute, sell, or otherwise do as they please with the copyrighted work for a limited time.
It is easy to unintentionally copy or “borrow” from a piece of existing content when writing or creating visual works. This may lead to copyright infringement and subsequent penalties and lawsuits. Having an intellectual property lawyer like Privacy Law in your corner can mean the difference between hefty fines, a large settlement, or in egregious cases, even jail time.
Tips to Avoid Infringement:
- Remember ALL information used from papers, books, journals, news, blogs, and more need to be properly cited in your work.
- Any information that is copyrighted cannot be used without permission from the holder
- Information that is in the “public domain” or for which the copyright has expired may be used freely
- Works as part of the creative commons license can be used freely
Patents – What are They?
Patent protection covers “ideas” or inventions. If issued, a patent provides the owner with the legal and unencumbered right to prevent others from producing, selling and using the invention for a designated timeframe. These rights are granted by the federal government. In the United States, this is done through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Those inventions that are considered to be “patentable” must be:
- Novel (i.e. unique and new)
- An “inventive” step
- Have industrial applicability
Types of Patents:
- Design (the conceptual design)
- Utility (the invention’s intended use in practice)
Patents are offered on a per-country basis, however, some countries participate in what is a “Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)”, allowing the inventor to apply in multiple countries at the same time.
Trademark / Service Mark
Trademark and service marks are types of intellectual property rights that are comprised of a design, expression or sign that is recognizable (trademark), or process of providing a service (service mark).
A service or trademark easily helps others distinguish the source of the service or product from that of another party. Common examples include brand names, colors, logos, and slogans.
In contrast to copyrights, trademarks do not expire so long as the mark is in “use”.
Do You Need Legal Assistance or Representation In an Intellectual Property Case or Claim?
Intellectual property laws can be confusing and difficult to navigate on your own. Whether you’re looking to protect your creation, or need representation against an infringement claim, hiring an IP lawyer that has a deep understanding of IP law is critical.
A service or trademark easily helps others distinguish the source of the service or product from that of another party.