How Can You Protect Your Intellectual Property?

Many unique products of the human intellect that has commercial values are called as intellectual property. Books, songs, movies, Paintings, drawings, Inventions, chemical formulas, computer programs are some of the examples of Intellectual property. Intellectual property (idea) is not a physical manifestation (paper).

Some people are altruistic; some are not. People can benefit from having ownership of their ideas, and thus can improve the quality of life for others. The allure of wealth can be an incentive for speculative work. Giving creators rights to their inventions stimulates creativity.

Trade secrets, Trademarks and service marks, Patents, Copyrights are some features for protecting our intellectual property.

  1. Trade Secrets

The confidential piece of intellectual property that gives the company a competitive advantage. Employees are asked to make a confidentiality agreement. Some examples of the trade secret are Formulas, customers’ lists, strategic plans, proprietary design. It’s never expired. It’s not appropriate for all intellectual properties.  Movies are the example of inappropriate- (they should be viewed and note kept in secret). Reverse engineering allowed (buying a can of Coco-Cola and trying to figure out its formula is legal). Maybe compromised when employees leave the firm.

  1. Trademarks & Servicemarks

A trademark identifies goods and trade services identifies services.  A trademark is a word, a logo, a sound, etc, that identifies a company or a product. The company can sue (the legal case) for improper use of its trademark.  However, if a trademark name becomes a common noun, the trademark may be lost. Ex: aspirin, escalator, thermos, yo-yo.

  1. Patent

A public (not secret) document that provides a detailed description of the invention. Provides owner with an exclusive right to the invention. The owner can prevent others from making, be using, or be selling the invention for 20 years.  After that, anyone can make use of the idea, Example: Polaroid vs Kodak- instant photography.

  1. Copyright

Provides owner of an original work five rights. There are a reproduction,  Distribution (copies of the work to the public), Public display (copies of the work in public),  Public performance,  Production of derivative works. Copyright-related industries represent 5% of U.S. gross domestic product. Examples are movie, music, SW, book industry. Copyright protection has expanded greatly since 1790. Sometimes legal to reproduce a copyrighted work without permission. Citing short excerpts for teaching, research, criticism, commentary, news reporting. Courts consider four factors for copyright, 01.  Purpose and character of use educational are permissible, not commercial. 02.  Nature of work- Fiction vs nonfiction (facts) and published preferred over non-published. 03.  Amount of work being copied- Brief excerpts not the entire work. 04. Affect on market for work-The use of out of print is permissible.

Leave your comment