Every groundbreaking idea, most astonishing invention, or multimillion corporation all started faintly in one place – the mind of an intellectual. Human creativity to make profits is an intellectual property that must be protected. But with the world going digital, we live in a dynamic, increasingly interconnected, and fast-paced world where all or part of these valuable assets are not as protected as decades ago. Information is now being shared with remote workers or partners oceans away. Now, it is not uncommon to see copycats and thefts claiming ownership of someone else’s idea and find loopholes around intellectual property laws that date back to 200 years ago. Protecting your creativity, brand, or name is a priority in the competitive online and offline market.
What are intellectual properties and the laws to protect them?
As the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) simply put it, intellectual property is creations of the mind. It can be images, signs, symbols, names, artistic works, literary works, and inventions intended for profit-making. For more straightforward classification, intellectual property can be an industrial property and copyright. Industrial property and close all information all trade secrets employ on the manufacturing process to marketing. Copyright, on the other hand, is mostly for artistic and literary work. Many creatives and corporations value their intangible property more than physical assets. Generally, there are currently four protections for all types of IP.
As the name implies, it’s a formula, technique, process, or recipe used by a business owner or corporation to manufacture or develop a product. It is a guided secret that makes such a product revolutionary or stands out from others.
To protect and maintain the trade secret’s integrity, the owner may request from employees or business partners to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) before revealing any part of the IP information.
Copyright protection gives exclusive rights to the owner of creative work for up to 70 years of the author’s lifetime but not renewable. It can be applied to original works such as literary, artistic, dramatic, or designs. This law is relatively the same in most parts of the world, with over 100 countries signing treaties such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade treaty (GATT) and the Berne Copyright Convention. Getting copyright filed often takes less than a year using the traditional methods and even faster, about three months, if processed online.
A trademark is a prediction of your business or brand and not necessarily an idea. The trademark can be a symbol, phrase, logo advertising wordings, color scheme, and any marks that distinguish a business from its competitors.
Before a trademark is filed, thorough research is done via a state or federal trademark database to ascertain no other individual or business at the same mark. It lasts for ten years from the date of approval and can be renewed in perpetuity. Trademarks are marked with the symbol Ⓡ.
A patent is a right and protection issued by the government or authority body for the commercial use of an invention. With that right, the owner of a story has the exclusive right to sell and modify it as he seems fit. It is a way to protect a unique idea and prevent other people from duplicating it. Filing a patent requires an experienced attorney’s service and can take up to 2 years to get your application approved.
What to do when your intellectual property is breached?
The first step to protecting your intellectual property is to file it under the appropriate protection already listed. Getting legal protection right on your creativity, mark, or brand will undoubtedly deter many, but we can’t rid the world entirely of ne’er-do-well.
So what happens when an organization or individual breaches your IP? At that point, you will need the service of a litigation attorney to enforce claims against the criminal. Seeking compensation from the infringer may be your best bet of stopping the infringer, protecting your image and brand from misuse, and preventing future occurrences.
On some occasions, court orders may suffice for an injunction, damage, or financial compensation order. While in other instances, out of court approaches such as issuing a letter of demand or granting a license and earning royalty from the infringer may be a better route.