Basic Guide to Intellectual Property (IP) Law
The legal system in the United States protects people’s property and provides them with legal rights in respect of that property. Intellectual property is property which is produced from the fruits of mental labor and intellectual property rights allow people to make a living from their creations.
General IP laws are separated into three areas. First, copyright laws are used to protect written and artistic expression. Second, patents are used to protect tangible inventions and finally, trademarks protect names or symbols which identify the producer of goods or services.
Copyright is the protection for both published and unpublished works of authorship. This authorship must be expressed in a tangible medium. This means that an idea for a book will not be protected, you actually have to write the book.
Copyright laws provide protection for creations like movies, books, articles, drawings, photographs, and sound recordings. It prevents others from reproducing the copyrighted work, performing or displaying copyrighted work publicly, or to prepare derivative works. Depending on the type of work created, the rules surrounding copyright can differ.
Copyright is different from patents and trademarks in that protection is granted the moment the work is created. You do not need to apply or pay a fee for copyright protection.
A patent may be granted for an invention. Usually, a new patent will last for 20 years from the date the application was filed and it grants certain rights. These rights include the right to exclude others from using, importing, selling, or making a patented product.
There are three types of patents. A utility patent is granted to people who invent or discover a new and useful process. A design patent is granted for the design to manufacture something and a plant patent is given to people who invent and asexually create a new variety of plant.
Patents are used to protect the rights of the creator in order for them to earn an income from the fruits of their labor. By filing a new invention, the inventor will have at least a 20-year head start on the competition.
There are complex rules relating to the granting of patents and the process can be long and expensive.
A trademark is a phrase, word, design, or symbol which identifies the source of goods. A service mark is the same but identifies the source of a service. However, the term trademark is commonly used to refer to both.
Trademarks differ from patents and copyrights because they don’t expire. Rights come from the actual “use” of a trademark and could go on forever.
Trademarks prevent other people from using the same or similar trademark for their business. On top of this, they also prevent other people making or selling the same goods or services under a different trademark.
Registration is not mandatory, but registration at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is recommended. Advantages of USPTO registration include a notice to the claim of ownership and the right to exclusive rights to use the mark.
Intellectual property laws seek to protect the fruits of mental labor. IP laws are separated into three main areas: copyright, patents, and trademarks. Each area has its own specific set of rules and you are always advised to seek the advice of a Lawyer before embarking on any legal process.
* Personal Note*
A few years back one of MCJ3 Media lost control over one of our Web Properties on Facebook. At the time 5 million followers and a Major factor for our company. The very first question from Facebook was “is this your Intellectual property and please send us a link to the US Trademark site” and a copy of your trademark. In short if you don’t have one you don’t own nothing. It don’t matter about your URL, Video & Photo’s of you. Know the difference between a copyright or trademark. Thanks to Marcos E. Garciaacosta our page was return to us within 5 days
Marcos E. Garciaacosta, Esq.