Do you know anything about intellectual property rights? The likelihood is that you do not but if you are running a business then this is something which you need to gain a greater understanding of. The rules and regulations around intellectual property rights can be very complex and also very confusing which is why you do not need be an expert, but you do need to have a basic level understanding of the fundamentals around these laws. We caught up with industry expert when it comes to intellectual property Michael E Melton, to find out why this it is important that you know about these laws, and what makes up the four corners of these rights.
Why It Is Important
The reason why it is vital that business owners have an understanding abut intellectual property laws is for reasons of protection. If a business were to infringe upon the rights of another, using something that they have created for the benefit of their business, there are some heavy consequences which may occur. In some cases this may be nothing more than a warning or a financial slap on the wrist, in other cases however the punishments can be far more severe and do great damage to your business.
A patent is one of the four cornerstones of intellectual property rights and this covers an idea, a product or a part which has been invented by someone that is entirely unique. Once someone invents something like this they can apply to have it patented which then gives them the sole rights and responsibilities in terms of permitting others to use, or reproduce their invention.
Copyright seeks to protect the way in which an idea is presented and whilst the idea itself may not be entirely original, the way that it is presented can be. Copyright includes aspects such as written work for literature or film, architectural drawings, written computer code, music and software. If a piece i protected by copyright it cannot be used in the same way by anyone else.
Trademark refers to signs, symbols, logos, smells, phrases and color schemes which are created by a company with the idea of using them to identify the company. For example the McDonald’s slogan ‘I’m loving it’ is a trademarked slogan which cannot be sued by anyone else.
If information about processes, strategy, formula or devices is stolen from a business and used by another then this is considered to be against the Trade Secrets act, put in place to prevent this from occurring. A business will have to protect itself of course but if theft happens then they are covered.
Bonus – Unfair Competition
Unfair competition also falls within the intellectual property law and it prevents businesses from using foul play to gain an advantage over its competition. This could include practices such as trade defamation, copyright infringement, misrepresentation of an image or name or even false advertising.
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