Intellectual Property Law

intellectual property law

Whenever an individual or group invents or develops something, they obtain patents. If an individual or group authors a literary work or any form of creative art, they obtain copyrights, which give them exclusive rights to their creations. As a way to protect themselves from fraud and other negative consequences in their businesses, and as a way to distinguish themselves from other competitors, companies and even individuals have their products and their names trademarked. All of these are what basically comprise intellectual property (IP) law, which, like the protection of one’s ownership of a certain property or real estate, likewise provide protection to an individual or group’s special control over certain assets.

But what really is intellectual property law? It is simply defined as a branch of the law dealing with protecting the rights of individuals or entities that are responsible for certain inventions, designs, and artistic works. One of the primary purposes why there are laws that put intellectual property rights into importance is to provide persons and entities the assurance that they can benefit from their creations without any fear of fraud. In this regard, economic growth comes into mind. Because the individuals and entities are given exclusive rights to their creations, they are provided the opportunity to not only reproduce their works, but earn profit from them.

In the U.S., the government agencies responsible for enforcing the laws on intellectual property include the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the U.S. Copyright Office. Basically, IP law governs three main protection mechanisms: patents, trademarks, and copyrights.

  • A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by the government to an inventor of a certain product. It basically protects a certain invention from being duplicated, sold, or used by other people or entity over a certain time period. A patent also allows the inventor to earn profit by transferring the right to another person or entity, like a manufacturer. Generally, its “shelf life” is 20 years, depending on the product. Certain items that can be patented include machines, gadgets and other technological items, and other goods. Even the way a manufactured product is designed, like a car, can be protected by a patent. However, protections under the patent may be denied if the invention is found to be offensive or is a copy of another existing design.
  • A trademark protects the name, logo, slogan, and the marks of identification of a certain product or company. When a product name is trademarked, it usually has the symbol TM (™). The purpose for availing trademarks is to avoid confusion on the part of the consumers. However, there are companies that tend to use the same name of a product or company name. By applying a trademark on a product logo design or company name, consumers can distinguish one identifiable name to another, effectively preventing others from copying.
  • A copyright protects a certain person or group’s creative work. Any form of visual art, from motion pictures, photographs, paintings, to architecture, as well as music, novels and other literary works, digital media, or any other form of artistic expression is subject to copyright. When a certain work is copyrighted, the person or group has exclusive rights to it. Not only is one allowed to reproduce, sell, display or perform his or her copyrighted work. Once a creative work is subjected to copyright, anyone cannot reproduce, sell, display, or perform it without the author’s permission.

Individuals or groups who have created something that is genuine or have been bestowed rights to a certain creative work must be able to seek a lawyer for intellectual property. Doing so will preserve their interest to reproduce, sell, display, or just inform others of their exclusive rights to their inventions, designs, and other works. The legal counsel can also be sought if their creative work was used in an unauthorized way by another person or entity.