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Intellectual Property Protection
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Intellectual Property Protection
Intellectual property law regulates and protects the rights of the person, business or organization that creates something. It encompasses everything from literary works to company slogans. The goal of intellectual property regulations is to promote new technologies, inventions, discoveries and publications to enhance a nation’s or a society’s economic growth. When work is protected, it brings a sense of security and spurs people to continue producing new ideas as well as content. This paper will discuss the four main methods, copyrights, patents, trademarks and trade secrets, which protect intellectual property for both businesses and individuals.
According to Alllaw.com (n.d.), “Copyrights protect the expressive arts. They give owners exclusive rights to reproduce their work, publicly display or perform their work and create derivative works.” Also, the person who owns the copyright can benefit financially from their production and can deny others any monetary compensation unless permission is granted. The important thing to bear in mind about copyrights is their protection does not extend to concepts. They apply only when that concept is put forth. To obtain a copyright, an application with a $35 fee and a copy of the work must be submitted to the U.S. Copyright Office. It takes between 2 to 6 months to receive the copyright and it lasts for the lifetime of the author plus 70 years. An example of a copyright would be photographers not allowing their photographs to be downloaded online without permission (UpCounsel.com, n.d.).
A patent “protects and invention from being made, sold or used by others for a certain period of time” (Alllaw.com, n.d.). In the United States there are three classifications for patents. The first is called utility patent. These protect scientific work such as machines and technology
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(Alllaw.com, n.d.). The second kind of patent is a design patent. Its purpose is to protect how a “manufactured object appears” (Alllaw.com, n.d.).The third type of patent is a plant patent. These protect various plant species that reproduce asexually (Alllaw, n.d.). To obtain a patent, an application must be filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A utility patent application must prove the item is “novel, non-obvious and has some usefulness” (UpCounsel, n.d.). A design patent lasts for 14 years, while a utility or plant patent lasts for 20. To keep the patent active, fees must be paid every 3.5, 7.5 and 11.5 years after the patent is established (UpCounsel, n.d.). An example of a patent would be for something like the cotton gin. Also, patents can be very difficult and costly to obtain.
Trademarks, “protect the names and identifying marks of products and companies. The purpose of trademarks is to make it easy for consumers to distinguish competitors from each other” (Alllaw.com, n.d.). Once a business decides to use a certain mark or symbol to categorize their company it is automatically trademarked. The two letters TM can be incorporated without having to file any paperwork with the government. It is a person’s best interest, however, to file the paperwork with the government as it affords greater protection. To do so, “you must have a clear representation of the mark, as well as an identification of the class of goods or services to which the mark will apply” (UpCounsel, n.d.). An example of a trademark would be a company name with a logo, such as State Farm Insurance. Like patents, trademarks can be complicated to obtain.
The fourth and final means of intellectual property protection are trade secrets. Nolo.com says, “In most states, a trade secret may consist of any formula, pattern, physical device, idea, process or compilation of information that provides the owner of the information with a
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competitive advantage in the marketplace and is treated in a way that can reasonably be expected to prevent the public or competitors from learning about it, absent improper acquisition or theft” (Nolo.com, n.d.). Trade secrets do not have government applications and all a company or individual needs to do is keep them secret. If they are revealed to the public they are no longer a trade secret. An example of a trade secret is formula for a sports drink.
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“Intellectual Property Law: Patents, Trademarks and Copyright.” N.d. Alllaw.com. Retrieved
“Intellectual Property Protection.” N.d. UpCounsel.com. Retrieved from
“Trade Secrets.” N.d. Nolo.com. Retrieved from http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/trade-secret-basics-faq-29099.html.
Slater, Derrick. (January 1, 2004). “Intellectual Property Protection: The Basics.” CSO.com.
Retrieved from http://www.csoonline.com/article/2138380/loss-prevention/intellectual-property-protection-the-basics.html?null.