You are one of 28 million business owners in America. You are also an inventor and you want to protect your intellectual property rights. You want to know about intellectual property laws. In the following discussion, we will define intellectual property as well as explain its protections.
Intellectual property law has to do with the rules and regulations for securing and enforcing legal rights to intellectual property. Intellectual property involves things like inventions, artistic works, and designs. The law not only protects ownership of personal property, but it also protects the exclusivity of control of non-physical assets. The laws are meant to incentivize people to develop ideas that benefit us all and ensure that the owners can make money from their works without fear of theft by others.
The U.S. Constitution is the basis for the securing of Americans’ intellectual property rights and for Congress’ ability to create intellectual property laws. Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the specific authority to grant authors and inventors exclusive rights to their inventions. Section 8 also gives Congress the power to regulate interstate and foreign commerce, which provides further support for its right to legislate intellectual property. Intellectual property laws passed by Congress are administered by two select government agencies, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the U.S. Copyright Office.
Patents give American inventors and creators the right to use their product in the marketplace, or to profit off the invention by transferring that right to someone else. It depends, but patent rights are valid for up to 20 years. Qualifying patent items include new machines and technologies and manufactured goods. This includes the “look” of a product. Patent protection is denied if an invention is found to be obvious in design, not useful to the public, or morally offensive.
Trademarks protect names, symbols and slogans that are used to identify various materials. It is important to prevent confusion and misleading advertising. Trademarks do this and help consumers differentiate one brand from another. In theory, rights last forever, and they are granted by simply using a trademark. Owners can receive additional protection by registering the marks, but this is optional.
Copyrights can apply to writing, movies, architecture, music, or other intellectual and artistic endeavors. Protection is not available for ideas or theories, rather only for concrete work. The very act of creation or invention itself creates a copyright, and unpublished works can still be considered protected under the law. A copyright date and symbol is most common, but not mandatory. A copyright is valid for the duration of a creator’s lifetime plus an additional 70 years.
Protect Against Infringement
Infringement is when someone not the owner uses his or her intellectual property in an unauthorized manner. To protect against infringement, creators should take steps to put the competition on notice that their rights exist and they will have them protected. Providing this notice helps deter against infringement. It makes the owner’s rights more visible to those who might purposely or inadvertently violate those rights.
If infringement occurs, rights to intellectual property can be legally enforced in a federal court of the United States. Before filing, intellectual property owners will do well to speak with an intellectual property lawyer to determine if litigation is in their best interests. These cases are often expensive to prosecute and there is always a risk of the owner’s rights being held as invalid or not as comprehensive as originally believed.
Intellectual property laws are meant to protect you. You need an attorney who knows intellectual property laws so that he can defend your intellectual property, defend your trademark or to defend your patent. You need to find the right patent law firm so that you can employ a patent attorney. Reach out to us today to find your trademark and patent attorney.