Intellectual property: A Summary
Unlike tangible property, intellectual property is more complicated in terms of ownership and possession. With regard to such complexity, the legal frameworks in place have come up with various provisions aimed at protecting the ownership and exclusive rights of such property. For purposes of such protection, intellectual property is divided into: copyrights, patents, trademarks, and registered designs. Contrary to common misconception, a single product can be protected under all these types. For instance, an iPhone, a product of Apple Inc, can have the company control its distribution and enhancement by use of patents, copyrights, registered designs and trademarks. Typically, patents are concerned with protecting the invention, i.e. the original idea. On the contrary, trademarks protect the brand that is vested in a name, e.g. the iPhone. On the other hand, the registered design protects the appearance or physical attributes of a product, e.g. the prominent iPhone theme. Lastly, the copyrights protect the creative aspects of a product such as the authentic apps associated with the iPhone.
Fundamentally, a patent is a power of bargain, given by the state to an individual for a period of 20 years, during which such an individual enjoys the exclusive rights over the item, but pays a description fee to the government in addition to legal fees. The fees applicable to patents include the application fee, search fee, the examination fee and the renewal fees. Patents, arguably the most complicated legal aspects of intellectual property, are associated with a multiplicity of myths. For instance, a lot of people believe that patents are only meant for cranky or whacky inventions, a myth that does not hold water, given the legal definition of the term patent. Contrary to this myth, one can use patents to protect any inventive idea, as long as it is authentic, and meets the threshold for patent award. Another myth commonly associated with patents is that such legal protection is only applicable to major technological breakthroughs and for complex advanced technology. On the contrary, patents can be used in legally protecting simple inventions if justified by authenticity and uniqueness.
A trademark is described as anything that is capable of graphical representation. Typically, trademarks are symbols or names, or even logos and slogans. The main function of a trademark is to protect the products of one undertaking from the products of other undertakings. A trademark can enable an observer to differentiate a company’s product from that of another by the appearance of the prominent symbol. For this reason, trademarks are sometimes referred to as badges of origin. A good example of a trademark is the Nike slogan Just Do It! The hard part about trademarks is the creativity required in inventing the mark. For instance, the law of property relating to trademarks requires that a trademark be a totally invented word, and not a copied one. Secondly, the word ought to be between 4 and eight letters. Lastly, the word should not bear any meaning in any language. When coming up with the trademark, it is required that the inventor avoids geographical names, any laudatory terminology and restrictive names. It is more advisable however, that an inventor uses their name or becomes more inventive in using outstanding slogans.
Copyrights are basically meant for the protection of ownership of works, especially the works associated with the creativity industry. Copyrights are exceptionally important in protecting the ownership of musical works, literary works, movies and films as well as computer software, works of photographers and other arts, and so on. Today, books, reports, engineering works songs and other intangible properties are protected by copyright laws. Such rights protect the works for a considerably long time depending on the type of work.
For instance, in the case of a book, the copyrights are applicable for a period of 70 years after the death of the author. This applies to all literary works, artistic works such as dramas and so on. in the case of a film, the copyrights are relevant up to 70 years after the death of the last directors, crew member or actor. Sound recording and broadcasted works are protected by copyrights for a period of up to 50 years after the first broadcast. Copyright infringement is a serious crime punishable under the doctrines of common law. However, there are some defenses applicable at law. Such include: public interest, private studies and researches, literally criticisms and so on.
Registered designs are considered the simplest of all types of intellectual property protection. Registered designs protect the external appearance or outlook of the piece of property. As mentioned earlier, the registered design helps the product of a single undertaking remain outstanding in the crowded market. If an inventor’s products are protected by registered design, no other producer or inventor will come up with a product bearing similar appearance. This remains to be the case for a period of 25 years, during which the protected party pays 60 pounds for the first five years. As a matter of fact, registered design is far simpler than patents and copyrights.