One of the most misunderstood areas of law is intellectual property. Here’s a primer on everything you need to know about intellectual property, from trademarks to patents to copyrights.
Intellectual property is a mental invention. Unlike physical property, such as a home or vehicle, intellectual property might have a tangible form or not. Intellectual property rights cover the use of your original invention but not the concept itself. Claim your rights often necessitates providing your intellectual property tangible shape, which is what is legally protected. Finally, certain intellectual property rights are only valid for a limited period, whilst others are theoretically indefinite.
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Intellectual Property Types
Intellectual property is classified into four types:
Trademarks are unique words, pictures, or sounds that identify a brand. Trademarks may be used to identify certain products or services, as well as the firm that provides them. Trademarks may be registered or unregistered, and they can be used indefinitely. A trademark application spreadsheet is a good place to start.
Patents-A patent grants you, the inventor, the only right to create, use, or sell your creation. Even if you never create or sell your idea, you may prevent others from using it until the patent expires. There are three sorts of patents: utility, design, and plant, each of which protects a distinct type of innovation. Filing a provisional patent application is a wise first step.
Copyrights-This kind of protection applies to original, non-utilitarian (unfit for labor) inventions. Copyrights include, among other things, texts, music, art, and software. Certain copyright rights are automatic if the work is in a physical form (written, recorded, etc.), although it is recommended that a copyright notice be included when publishing these works.
Trade secrets are bits of knowledge, such as a recipe, procedure, or technique, that offer a firm a competitive advantage. The knowledge is important because it is not commonly known, and exposing it would reduce, if not eliminate, its worth. The KFC Colonel’s secret recipe and the Coca-Cola formula are two well-known examples.
Your rights differ depending on the nature of intellectual property and whether or not it is registered. For example, although you do not have to register trademarks or copyrights to have any protection, doing so provides you greater rights. In all circumstances, registration is required for patent protection. There is no formal way to register trade secrets.
What You Can Do to Safeguard Your Intellectual Property
Each sort of intellectual property is subject to an own set of laws. Here are some pointers to consider if you want to protect your innovation from unauthorized use by others or if your use of an idea would infringe on the rights of others:
You may do the following at the creation or invention stage:
Investigate your invention-Before seeking for protection, you must ensure that your intellectual property does not already exist. These searches may get sophisticated, so you should contact an IP attorney to ensure you don’t miss anything.
Apply for protection-You’ll want to get the documentation perfect if you want your application to be approved. The terminology you select to describe your idea in a patent is critical to ensure you obtain the greatest protection available. Again, consulting with an experienced lawyer is definitely worth the money.
Licensing agreements-If you decide to license your innovation, a lawyer can ensure that the agreement is in your best interests and that you are not giving up rights that you did not mean to give up.
If you feel someone is unlawfully utilizing your protected work, you can:
Deliver a letter of stop and desist.
To ISPs (Internet service providers) and/or website owners, send a DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) takedown notification.
Bring a lawsuit.
If you are suspected of infringing on someone else’s intellectual property rights, the penalties might be severe. By making a request, such as a copyright request, you may seek permission to utilize another person’s or company’s intellectual property.
International Intellectual Property Rights
Other nations may not regard your intellectual property rights as being protected by US law, and you must apply for protection in each place where you want to have it. Several nations have agreed to streamline the procedure by accepting a single application for certain privileges. Under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), you may submit a single application to get patent protection in up to 146 countries and trademark protection in any of the 88 countries that participate in the Madrid Protocol. In other nations, copyright cannot be protected with a single application. Several nations, however, recognize foreign copyrights via various treaties or agreements.
To safeguard your intellectual property, make sure you know what rights your work qualifies for and what protection is provided by relevant laws.