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Intellectual Property—The Basics

Intellectual Property—The Basics

In today’s age of digitized information, ideas are unlimited and accessible for free. This liberty enables you to promote your intellectual properties in the form of books, artworks, logos, trademarks, machines, software, and inventions. In addition to that, through the internet, you can freely analyze insights and study undiscovered systems through research and development.

But even before this digital age, the world witnessed how intellectual property shaped the way humans think, create, and respond to the demands of time. For instance, the great inventions of scientists and inventors have brought convenience and satisfaction on the quality of life. 

Today, intellectual properties are almost everywhere. They are intersectional; they can be your all-time favorite songs, your ultimate fashion brand, your company logo, or even your mobile phone’s software. Intellectual properties are making your life easier, but they make the process of legally protecting your ideas harder. How much do you know about Intellectual Property? Do you know that this write-up is a form of intellectual property? This article is your guide to understand intellectual property, its forms, and how it benefits your life. 

Intellectual Property, Defined 

The set of intangible assets owned by an individual, a partnership, a corporation, or a big company is operationally termed as Intellectual Property (IP). Intangible assets are of the same significance as tangible or physical assets, so due to technological advancements contributed by human intelligence and goodwill, the trend of protecting non-physical assets started through intellectual property. 

Intellectual property provides the same protective rights as physical properties. In other words, IP prevents the replication, imitation, republication, and commercialization of intangible assets in commerce and trade. For instance, the printing of confidential information in a document constitutes the violation of trade secrets; the imitation of the song’s rhythm infringes copyrights; the use of registered marks violates trademark rights.

As a consequence of numerous cases on intellectual property infringements, the communities of inventors, scientists, writers, real estate investors, and other owners with IP assets are now protected by intellectual property laws and supported by various organizations promoting IP protections, which includes the United States Patent and Trademark Organization (USPTO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the World Customs Organization (WCO), the World Trade Organization, and the European Union (EU). 

Types of Intellectual Property

Patents 

Patents are the most expensive and time-consuming types of intellectual property to obtain. However, among the types of IP, patents built the most complex protection in the realm of intellectual property. 

Patent laws provide the exclusive right to owners to manufacture, use, or sell an invention in commerce. Here, patented inventions become a prior art, or an essential factor that impedes others from making the same product. 

Among the patent types, the utility and design patents are two of the most practical and profitable IP protections with affordable patent costs. Here, the utility patents will teach you how to patent machines, processes, articles of manufacture, and compositions of matter, which promote novelty and technical utility. On the other hand, the design patents protect ornamental features. 

According to J.D. Houvener, a Patent Attorney serving Houston, you have to file a patent application to market your product without violating a patent infringement; the average cost of a patent infringement is $2.8 million. If you lose in the case, you can pay another million, which wastes your cost, effort, and time.

An example of a notable patent case is the legion lawsuit of Apple vs. Samsung, where the Supreme Court awarded Apple $1 billion in patent infringement damages against Samsung.

Copyrights 

Did Youtube stop the publication of your vlog due to a copyright infringement? Perhaps, you might have used a popular song that alarmed the music company owning the music. Hence, as you read between the lines, copyrights guarantee exclusive ownership of creative works to an author, artist, painter, and other personalities who produce original art. 

Patents and copyrights are not the same. While patents protect how an idea works through logic and formula, copyrights preserve the expression of an idea, regardless of how others express the same. 

As a general rule, copyrights don’t extend their protection to ideas and procedures. However, the law provides eight categories of work that can be subject to copyright, including:

  • Musical pieces, including the lyrics;
  • Literary sources, such as books, poems, and novels;
  • Original choreography;
  • Architectural designs and structures;
  • Audiovisual works;
  • Dramatic works with accompanied music;
  • Sound recordings; and
  • Graphic, pictorial, and sculptural works.

Remember, copyrights are vested upon the accomplishment of an expressed work. For it to obtain legal establishment, your IP needs to be protected through a copyright office.

Trademarks

Trademarks are your banner, your product source, and your arm against your market competitors. It sustains your business and expands your market through the production of your company’s logo, product’s slogan, and other media, which directly influence your customers’ buying behavior.

Similar to copyrights, common law protects unregistered trademarks in use in commerce. Still, trademark infringements are inevitable, especially when big companies are preserving their IP assets. Otherwise, if your trademark is left unprotected, you can pay higher liabilities than your net assets. 

There are three types of trademarks, including word marks, design marks, and certification marks. 

Hence, a great mistake that most entrepreneurs could make is running a business without a trademark protection. Because of a fledgling business’ vulnerability to trademark infringers, paying legal costs is higher than what you could profit. 

Trade Secrets

Among the types of intellectual property, trade secrets are hidden, confidential, and non-published forms of intangible assets. These IP assets don’t have a defined time horizon. Meaning, the IP doesn’t expire or it is closely guarded for the lifetime of a firm.

The best examples of trade secrets are Coca-Cola’s mixture recipe, KFC’s flavored chicken, and Victoria’s Secret’s perfume formula. In other words, a trade secret relates to a company or individual, which possesses exclusive rights in trading. To qualify for a trade secret, a piece of information must be genuine, non-obvious, a competitive advantage, and protected against disclosure. 

Key Takeaways

Intellectual property is your idea fleshed out through a process, a machine, a logo, or a concept. Unfortunately, the tendency of market competition through products, services, and trends could affect the originality, product source, and uniqueness of an idea. 

Here comes in Intellectual Property: providing protective rights to intangible assets to avoid the infringement of rights in the trade and commerce. If you left your intangible assets unprotected, it’s not too late yet. Protect your intellectual properties today!


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