The digital landscape has transformed the way we interact with other people’s intellectual property. In the past few years, we have seen increasing numbers of companies sued for using someone else’s intellectual property without permission. We have also seen an increase in the number of patents and trademarks being filed protecting various ideas. It seems like everyone is claiming an idea or a concept as their own, but how important is intellectual property?
Some people would argue that intellectual property is fundamental to some businesses. For example, it could be argued that the patent on a new medical drug has saved lives and made big companies lots of money. Others will say that patents encourage competition between pharmaceutical companies because they constantly try to mimic each other’s products to make slightly different versions of the same thing.
However, many people do not think intellectual property is significant, and they think that intellectual property rights should be abolished. They will often argue that patents only help companies make more money because they increase prices on their products while simultaneously preventing other businesses from bringing out similar products that would affect sales. It’s a debate of what is more important, the inventor or the public need.
Regardless of what side you sit on in this debate, it goes without saying that intellectual property is an active component of modern society. But exactly how important can it be?
What Is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual property (IP) refers to any form of creative work that can be protected by law. It includes, but is not limited to:
- Product inventions
- Music, lyrics, and plays
- Artworks such as paintings, sculptures, or photography
- Literary works like poetry and novels
- Computer software and databases
- Inventions such as chemical formulas, industrial designs, and the commercial use of a composition or process.
Intellectual property is protected by the law to ensure that people who have done creative work can prevent others from using their ideas. There are different types of intellectual property, each one protecting a different type of creative work.
What Is a Trademark?
A trademark is an identifying name, phrase, or symbol that distinguishes a company’s products and services from those of another. A trademark can be a symbol, word(s), design, or combination that helps people recognize the source of goods or services.
Trademarks are essential as they help consumers identify who made their products. It is often easier for a consumer to select a well-known brand of a product than it is for them to try to determine the quality or nature of an unrecognizable brand of product.
Trademarks are not only limited to words or phrases, however. They can also be designs, symbols, and shapes that help distinguish a product from others.
What Is a Copyright?
A copyright is a legal protection extended to the owner of an original work that has been published or produced. A copyrighted work can be a book, painting, movie, or song.
Copyright protects original works such as poems and novels and artistic creations such as paintings, sculptures, and drawings.
Copyrights are very important as they prevent people from copying or using an original work without the creator’s permission. Copyright is not limited to published works. The moment an original work is created and fixed tangibly, copyright attaches to that work automatically.
What Is a Patent?
A patent is a grant that gives an inventor the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling their invention. A patent is valid for 20 years from filing and protects the inventor throughout much of the world.
Patents are granted to an inventor to protect their inventions, so they have the sole right of making, using, and selling the patented technology. The patent gives them a time-limited monopoly on the invention.
Patent protection is available for various technologies, including chemical and plant-related inventions, electrical and electronic systems, medical devices, machinery, and industrial equipment.
What Is a Trade Secret?
A trade secret is often defined as a piece of information that has value because it is not generally known and that is subject to efforts made by a business to keep it secret. Trade secrets are protected under state laws, not federal law.
A trade secret can be any form of information that provides the company with a distinct advantage over other competitors who do not know or use it. It can be a formula, process, device, or information about a customer list, price book, production techniques, and processes.
The Value of Intellectual Property
The birth of intellectual property was due to the immense value that it does provide to the economy; it:
- Drives economic growth by encouraging people to be more productive, make discoveries, and create things.
- Allows businesses to invest in developing new products and services.
- Fosters competition among businesses because it gives companies incentives to make new products, services, and technologies.
- Promotes global economic growth and provides consumers worldwide with a greater variety of products to meet their needs and solve their common problems.
- Creates more jobs that pay well, further fueling the economy.
What Should I Do When Someone Infringes on My Intellectual Property?
There are several things you should do if someone is infringing on your intellectual property. First and foremost, talk to an attorney. If it’s a registered trademark, a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office can help you determine if your rights have been violated. If the infringement is not registered, it will be up to you and your attorney to prove that your rights have been violated. If the violation is intentional and willful, then damages can be increased, and you will likely be eligible for compensation.
Contact the Kinder Law Group for Legal Intellectual Property Support
The Kinder Law Group represents clients in intellectual property litigation and can help you determine your rights. If someone is infringing on your trademark, copyright, or patent, we can help you determine if your rights have been violated and what action to take. We are a dedicated team of Irvine, California, intellectual property attorneys that always fight for our client’s rights. If you need intellectual property support, contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced lawyers.