Intellectual property law is designed to protect entities that produce original works and inventions. The idea behind intellectual property law is to foster an environment that inspires economic growth through innovation. Simply put, if someone creates something such as a painting, this person should know that only he will benefit from the sale of that painting. This inspires others to create their own paintings and benefit monetarily from their sale. It is also a very complex area of the law and there are lawyers who specialize in it.
Areas of Intellectual Property
There are three areas of intellectual property:
Each of these areas is defined and discussed below. However, you can think of the three areas as forms of legal protection to ensure that the creator of a work is the beneficiary of recognition and monetary revenue it generates.
A copyright is a protection by which a creator’s original work is protected from unauthorized copying. It applies to such works as novels, plays, paintings, music, literary works, and performance. Basically, it protects authors and creators in the expressive arts. A copyright gives the creator exclusive rights to his work such as:
• Making copies of it
• Displaying it on the media
• Showcasing it
• Performing it
• Creating derivative works
• Selling and distributing it
An entity who is not the copyright owner cannot do any of the above without written consent by the latter.
It is important to note that copyright laws only protect the way ideas are presented and not the ideas alone. They also do not protect facts, slogans, procedures, and titles. They only protect the original work. In other words, if you have an idea, it is not protected by copyright law until you create something from it.
The trademark protects something that is highly-valued by any business and that is brand recognition. In other words, the trademark is an instrument by which the names and logos of businesses are protected from copying. This way, consumers can recognize a business by way of its unique depictions and other marks.
Trademarks are rather easy to implement and require no formal filing. Once a business starts using its name and logo, it can use the TM symbol to identify the trademark.
A patent is an instrument for protecting inventions. Patents are complex and protect areas such as:
• Composition of products
• Improvements to products
It should be noted that the patent protects an idea whereas a copyright does not. However, one can get patent if the improvement to an existing patent warrant that it is a true innovation. Basically patents protect inventions that are both novel and have features that would not be obvious to anyone else.
Intellectual Property Lawyers
There are lawyers who practice intellectual property law. They provide assistance to the intellectual property owners in areas such as:
• Applying for patents
• Writing licensing agreements
• Defending your work
• Writing franchising agreements
• Other intellectual property business agreements
• Software licensing
The interpretation of intellectual property law oftentimes has its gray areas between what is protected and what is not. For example, someone has an idea for a book and someone else takes that idea and actually writes the book. The idea person might claim that he has a copyright on the idea when he actually does not but the case may end up in court anyway. This is where the intellectual property lawyer goes to work.
However, in the case of patents, ideas are protected so the legal dealings with this area get much more convoluted. There is the originator of the idea and then there are those who come along and create permutations of that idea. The challenge for the intellectual property lawyer is showing that his client’s idea is in fact unique even if it is adding to existing technology.
If you have a novel idea or have made a one-of-kind work of art, it is in good order to seek the advice of an intellectual property lawyer. Likewise, if you believe that your original work has been infringed upon, seeking an experienced intellectual property lawyer is a w