Imagine the first person who ‘invented the wheel.’ Should they have prospered from the fruits of their mind’s thought and subsequent invention? Separately, should society benefit from the invention of others, even granted access to the intellectual thoughts and subsequent blueprints of productions?
Intellectual property, trademarks and copyright deal with ownership of thoughts, benefits of society and commerce between small and major brands. Consider the following information to understand integral definition and distinction.
Intellectual Property rights protect intangible properties, peoples’ thoughts and unique innovations of design. Protecting and acquiring IP rights can be difficult regarding what is deemed a person’s intellectual property, and subsequently, its pursuit to elevate the state of the art and society.
The improvement of society is incorporated with sentiments of creative properties, not only to inspire people to create things to benefit society, but to also fill the sails of competition and enterprise. As a derivative of issued rights, creators must share the ideas and mechanical blueprints associated to subsequent creations.
Respective governments grant and oversee the issuance and legality of patents, which regard the property rights associated with a design of a product.
Owning the intellectual rights to design inspires a number of business maneuvers, and (just) because you’re granted exclusive rights to the patent of a product, it does not mean you may ‘use’ it. At times, companies ‘sit’ on a patent, maintaining exclusive rights to obstruct the immediate innovation of competitors. The notion is contradictory to the altruistic notion of intellectual properties benefitting all of society, yet proves how complicated the issuance of patents becomes regarding legalities and financial pursuits of big brands, especially online.
To add yet another wrinkle, unless all of the components of a product are unique and free of the patent rights of others, it’s possible that brands using components (adhering to others’ respective patents) to product their own (patented) product can receive a cease and desist notice by the foreign component’s creator. Often, patents are used as stratagems to thwart competitors or augment an in-house service or product endeavor. The term for a patent is 20 years from the initial filing.
A copyright protects the expression of an idea, differing from a patent that protects the idea itself. So, a copyright may protect blueprints, drawings, sketches, notes and other physical and altogether original expressions of an author.
In order to qualify for a copyright a work must be:
- Created as an original by the author, rather than ‘copied’ or built upon pre-existing works
- Host at least a minimal degree of creativity
However, again making things complicated and hazy, a copyrighted entity may contain non-original elements (as long as they are implemented in an altogether novel way). Depending on the country, copyright begins at the creation of the copyright (extending back to its point of origin) and extends 70 years after an author’s death.
Bittorrent client providers like Vuze go out of their way to inform their users how to search for content that is copyright free, or authorized by copyright holders for free distribution.
Adding a trademark to a product is mainly done to make the product identifiable, thereby allowing for distinct marketing and branding of the product. Many identical or near identical products can be sold, like t-shirts, jeans and handbags for instance. The trademark is what makes the product identifiable with a manufacturer and it indicates that the product originates form a particular company.
In addition, extensions of a brand (such as slogans, logos, etc) may be extensions or supplemental trademarks of a brand.
Governments around the world enact trademark law and issue trademarks to applicants that qualify. Trademark law upholds the individuality of brands and associated products and services. Not to be confused with Patent laws, Trademark laws have nothing to do with other entities obtaining, reselling or producing similar products.
Barbara Alberts is a law student concentrating on intellectual property. She enjoys researching and then blogging about basic intellectual property challenges on various blogs.