What is Intellectual Property?

What Is Intellectual Property? | NC Trademark Attorney

When someone develops a new invention, creative work or other project, it is protected under intellectual property law, or IP law,  so that others cannot duplicate, plagiarize, or profit from it without permission from the owner.

One of the basic ideas behind intellectual property law is that when authors know their work is protected, they will be more likely to continue creating art that benefit the world around them. Their creations could create jobs, advance technology, provide entertainment, or build upon the arts and music cultures.

Examples of intellectual property, also referred to as creations of the mind, include:

  • Literary works such as novels, short stories, screenplays, and poetry;
  • Musical compositions, songs, and lyrics;
  • Artistic endeavors such as photography, film, painting, and sculpture;
  • Computer software code;
  • Designs, including architecture, maps, and advertisements; and
  • Symbols, logos, or graphics.

The most common ways a person can protect his or her creations under intellectual property law: copyright, trade secret, and trademarks.

Copyrights protect the authors of original work. It also gives them the ability to profit from their creations and keeps other people from using them without their permission. An idea itself cannot be protected under a copyright, but once the idea is put into tangible form, it is. For example, if John has an idea for a book about a blue alien that lives on earth it is not protected under intellectual property law until he writes the story. Some rights under copyright are granted to the author as soon as the idea is put into a tangible form, but you need to go a step further to get the most protection.

While it is not necessary to file for a copyright, it is needed if an author of an original work finds that he or she needs legal protection against someone who is using their work without permission. There are some filing requirements that must be met before a lawsuit can be filed and before some damages are ordered by a judge.

Trademarks cover words, phrases, logos, or graphics that represent the source of a product or service. This ensures that customers are not confused by similar looks or ideas from a company that tries to copy another company. A company can place the letters “TM” on the logo or graphic in order to declare it trademarked. If they offer a service rather than goods, they can use “SM,” a service mark.

The owner can also go a step further and have it registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The first step in doing so is searching to make sure no one else has trademarked something similar. Hiring a NC trademark attorney to assist with this process will better ensure you have completed the process correctly and will save time and money in processing the paperwork for something that is already in use.

Klish and Eldreth, PLLC | NC Trademark Attorney

Do you have questions concerning intellectual property? We can help you protect your creations, inventions, or other projects from misappropriation. Call our NC trademark attorney at Klish and Eldreth to get the answers you need about intellectual property law from experienced lawyers. We can also help with other legal matters such as estate planning, guardianship and more.

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