Basic Types of IP Laws

Basic Types of IP Laws

capsule serif;”>Regardless of its importance, many entrepreneurs, artists, and content creators are often confounded by the particulars of intellectual property law. It is fairly common, therefore, for these people to neglect or even avoid taking the necessary steps to protecting their artwork, brands, inventions, and other creative output. Oftentimes, there is confusion as to the minutiae of IP laws or a simple lack of information. While the field of intellectual property can surely be complex, having some knowledge of the basic principles is essential, especially as a tool for avoiding potential issues and as a safeguard from counterfeiting and piracy.

Numerous state and federal laws protect intellectual or creative property such as written works, musical compositions, software, architecture, photography, films, paintings, and other artwork. On the whole, these various laws are known as intellectual property laws, and they include such things as trademarks, copyrights, and patent laws. Each of these is defined by its own set of technicalities and rules and each is only applicable in certain situations.

If you are trying to get permission to use a creative work, then your main concern is copyright law. But because certain types of permissions are granted when the use of certain types of intellectual property is sought, it also pays to become familiar with other laws that are pertinent to the permissions process.

Types of IP Laws

  • Copyright

Federal copyright laws protect any creative output that is or can be expressed in a tangible medium from unauthorized distribution, reproduction, and display by others. Subject matter protected include books, software, art, codes, websites, promotional material, organizational manuals, architecture, photographs, dance, music, and such. To obtain copyright protection, a work must comply with specific minimum requirements. Registration with the Library of Congress affords enhanced protection, though unregistered works may have limited protection.

The length of copyright protection is determined by the date of creation or first publication date of the work. Artists and entrepreneurs are advised to file copyright applications as soon as possible and to obtain written agreements with business partners and co-creators setting forth ownership stakes in present and future copyrightable matter.

The downside to copyright law is that while it protects a specific expression of the artist’s or creator’s original idea, it does not protect the idea itself. Copyright laws do not prohibit individuals from independent expression of another’s concept. Thus, the artist may need to obtain other types of protection, such as a patent.

  • Trademark

Trademarks apply to source identifiers of products or services. These include names, logos, slogans, product packaging, and other devices or configurations that distinguish products, services, and brands. Trademark laws protect, say, a business from other using deceptively similar identifiers. For example, the iconic Golden Arches-like M letter is a trademark of McDonald’s. No other business can use the same symbol. However, a trademark does not prevent others from making or selling the same products or services under a distinctly different identifier.

Unlike copyrights, there are various degrees of protection afforded by a trademark. This is dependent on certain factors such as the type of good or service, consumer awareness of the brand, and geographic area where the trademark will be used. It is highly recommended that trademark applications be filed as soon as possible with the Trademark Office. Actual sales prior to trademark application are not required; however, actual sales have to be tendered before the application process is completed. Ongoing trademark rights are dependent upon sales made under the trademark. A trademark application is not the same as a trade or business name registration or a domain name registration.

  • Patent

Subject matter that can be protected by a patent include all new or improved product, service, or process such as mechanical devices, electrical circuits, software, hybridized plants, designs, and such. Patent laws protect against the manufacture, use, sale, and distribution of the patented invention, as well as from reverse engineering and independent creation from the patented concept or design.

There are three types of patents: (1) utility patents, (2) design patents, and (3) plant patents. Patent registration is done with the US Patent Office. It is highly recommended that patent applications be filed as soon as possible and prior to displays, publications, and disclosures of the subject matter to be patented. The downside of a patent is that it is only enforceable for a limited term lasting about twenty years from the date of patent application in the United States. US patents are only enforceable within the United States and its territories and possessions. Publication of the patent is required upon patent issuance.

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.

Powered by WordPress | Designed by: free Drupal themes | Thanks to hostgator coupon and cheap hosting