Whether you’re an inventor, designer, or have dedicated your time and energy to a creative endeavor, you have the desire to capitalize from the fruits of your labor. Intellectual property law protects your proprietary ideas, processes, and developments from unauthorized use by others. In many cases, it’s not illegal for another individual or organization to copy your design or invention if it’s not registered, so don’t make the mistake of introducing a product to the market without I.P protection. Contact an intellectual property lawyer with any questions you have regarding invention, design, or process.
3 Reasons Why You Need to Protect Your Intellectual Property
Depending on the type of intellectual property you’re trying to protect, you or your attorney will want to file for a patent, copyright, or trademark. These instruments serve the following purposes:
- It Legally Declares Ownership of the Property – Until you’ve filed for a patent, trademark, or copyright, your idea or design can be claimed by anyone. From a legal standpoint, it’s often difficult to determine who was the first to come up with a device or a system. By filing the appropriate forms, you establish legal ownership.
- It Gives You Control Over Your I.P. – In the event that you franchise or license your intellectual property to others, you have the ability to enforce your agreements through the courts.
- It Allows You to Legally Differentiate Your Product From Similar Ones – There may be good or services similar to yours, but unless they are sold with your permission and under your patent, trademark, or copyright, they cannot legally claim to be your property.
Types of Intellectual Property Protection Instruments in the U.S.
U.S. intellectual property attorneys use several different types of government instruments to protect their clients’ I.P.:
Patents are issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which also registers trademarks. In order for an invention to be patentable, it needs to be both original and novel—in other words, it can’t be copied from someone else or so obvious that it can’t be called an invention. Once an application for a patent is filed, no one else can file for the same product. Most patents are good for 20 years.
According to the USPTO, a copyright protects “literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished.” In most cases, a copyright lasts for the life of an author plus 70 years. Unlike patents and trademarks, copyrights are registered at the Copyright Office of the U.S. Library of Congress.
Trademarks assist in the protection of branding. Things like logos, insignias, words, and other designs that are associated with your company have value to you. Without trademark protection, your products would be easier to counterfeit.
Enforcing Your Intellectual Property Rights
Obtaining a patent, copyright, or trademark doesn’t ensure that your intellectual property will be safe from theft or counterfeit, but it does give you and your attorney the legal right to file injunctions, enforce licensing agreements, and pursue damages for violations. Furthermore, intellectual property laws serve as a deterrent to other business entities who would try to profit from your developments. If you have any questions regarding the safety of your intellectual property, you should contact an intellectual property lawyer at your earliest convenience.