Many people wonder if they can patent an idea or some other form of an intangible product. The answer depends on the situation, but that is precisely why intellectual property law exists. It is a legal mechanism to protect the creative work of another individual or organization. It also includes inventions and many other types of goods and services that we have in modern society. If you created something, you have the right to use it exclusively, or at least be compensated if someone else chooses to use or enjoy it. Let us look now at a few of the more popular topics when it comes to intellectual property law in the modern era.
Issues of Copyright
Copyright essentially protects the right of the owner of creative or artistic work. Items that are typically under copyright law include theatrical performances, various types of music, all kinds of movies, books, and much more. When you copyright something, it means to another person or entity is not permitted to copy it without your permission. If it is a product that you sell, then you need to be compensated any time someone wants to use your material that has been copyrighted
Interestingly enough, you are free to copyright your own work at any time. There is no legal requirement that you go through a formal process to do so. However, keep in mind that you may want to obtain a formal copyright license if you intend to profit from your work. This will serve as proof as to the date that you filed the copyright and that it is your own original work. This could help you in the event that you need to file a legal challenge against someone at a later date.
Filing a Patent
Another form of intellectual property law can found with a patent. This gives the person or company the full rights to an invention of their own creation. As long as you own the patent, nobody else is able to use the technology without your permission. The product can also not be sold or otherwise distributed without your permission, which will typically come with some type of compensation as well. The term of a patent in the United States is usually 20 years. After that time, you would need to work with a legal team to determine where to go from there.
When you ask for patent protection, you will need to prove the uniqueness of your invention. Contrary to copyright issues, patents do need to be formally filed. It takes a great deal of work to ensure that nobody else has already been using your invention with a previously filed patent. It is through this research that government agencies and public bodies determine what rights if any, you actually have on the invention. Even a particular piece of technology can be patented even if it is to be used in other products.
You will typically notice a company registering a trademark. It can be a logo, particular design, product or brand name, or even the way the letters are formed to create a certain design. The trademark is used to represent a company. Once filed, no other person or organization can infringe on that trademark and use it as their own. It is a way of distinguishing who you are as a company or individual from others.
Again, you do not need to register a trademark in order to have the rights to it. Once you begin using the symbol or design to represent your brand or product, you have the right to use it. However, if you really want your trademark to stand up to legal challenges, then you will want to register it. This is how you prove that you have proper ownership over the design itself. While patents only last for 20 years, a trademark is good forever. This is why business attorneys will work hard to ensure that a trademark is properly licensed. This ensures not only that the business is using their own unique design, but that nobody else can begin using it at a later date.
These are just a few of the many areas of intellectual property law. It is a mechanism to protect the individual and the work that they have put into designing or developing something. It is a complex area of the law that often requires legal counsel in order to effectively navigate.