Intellectual Property

Understanding intellectual property rights

Intellectual Property

So you've got a great idea for reducing the noise put out by the common gas lawnmower. Or maybe you think the next big catchphrase will be "Everyone loves a taco!" Regardless, if you have an idea, you can think of it as a creation that can be considered intellectual property. Intellectual property law recognizes that owners of certain ideas can be granted exclusive rights the use of these concepts, whether they are catchphrases, inventions, musical works or graphic designs. Intellectual property can refer to any number of sub-fields, including trademark, patent and trade secrets. Although intellectual property began to be identified as a legal principle in the 19th century, it's believed the concept dates back to 17th century concepts of copyright and patent law.

Intellectual Property Categories

Traditionally, intellectual property protection is broken down into two different categories: industrial property and copyright. The first, industrial property, includes inventions (which are patented), trademarks, and unique architectural or graphic designs. Copyright, by contrast, deals with less tangible property, like literary and musical pieces, including books, poems, songs, theatrical plays and movie scripts. It can also involve artistic works like original drawings, paintings, photos or sculptures.

Although it may not seem so, these kinds of patents do vary considerably. The man or woman behind an original design for building materials may be able to patent not only the physical product itself, but also the method of making that product. If there's a special, unique design on that product that differentiates it from similar products on the market, that too could be registered. This kind of creeping copyright protection is more difficult to apply to copyright associated with a song or television program.

IP and Technology

A new and fascinating field for intellectual property rights relates to website production. A domain name (or website address) is registered and protected by a single site. Words, designs and catchphrases used on that site can also be protected.

An intellectual property lawyer specializes in determining how a copyright is defined and to whom it applies. They can also provide valuable advice when investigating the protection of concepts, inventions, etc.

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