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Most people are familiar with the terms “Intellectual Property”. However, only a few are truly aware of the full meaning and scope of this relatively arcane area of the law.
In short, an intellectual property is what is known as a “creation of the mind” that legally belongs to a corporation or individual. Intellectual property law refers to the legal protections of these ownerships, also known as “monopolies”.
Intellectual property laws are designed to maintain and safeguard the rights of the creator of the property or “creation of mind” in question.
These laws are much broader than most people think.
There are many types of intellectual properties, including trademarks, copyrights, patents, as well as music, literature and art. Here’s some background on a few of the most important areas of intellectual property law.
Copyright refers to a grouping of rights expressly reserved for the individual that creates an original work. A copyright gives an individual the authority to copy, change, or distribute the work in question.
After a copyright has existed for a designated period, the work that is protected by the copyright enters what is known as the “public domain”. It is then no longer the exclusive holding of the creator as it was in its original legal incarnation.
A trademark refers to a phrase, symbol, or image that is representative of an individual, a group or a brand. In terms of its legal status, a trademark can be either “registered” or “unregistered”.
These different types of registration have differing kinds of enforcement under the law. For example, a trademark that is related to services (as opposed to products) is known as a “service mark”. Any cases that involve infringement are limited by what is known as the “fair-use” defense, which allows trademarks to be used by others if they accurately describe the product or identify the trademark’s owner according to the law.
Patents are typically associated with inventors and their inventions. They protect the right of the inventor to his or her work for a designated period of time. Technically, a patent is granted to its owner In exchange for the disclosure of the invention to the public. A patent has terms that protect the inventor, giving him or her the legal authority to guard against others making profits from the work. This type of patent typically has a length of 20 years.
Intellectual laws pertaining to things such as recipes, processes, or other types of information that give a business an advantage over their competition are known as “Trade Secrets”. These are protected by legal entities known as “non-compete” and “non-disclosure” contracts. These agreements ensure that these trade secrets cannot legally be shared with any other individual or group.
Are you facing litigation for violating intellectual property law? If so, you should seek the advice of experienced legal counsel. This area of law is one of the most difficult to navigate. To protect your rights, you should always seek out the expertise of an attorney well versed in intellectual property law.