Intellectual Property Lawyer
Intellectual property law is complicated and can often lead to millions of dollars in settlements and attorney fees, as well a lengthy trial. In protecting your company, proprietary information and brand it is important to consult with and develop and intellectual property strategy for your company and ideas.
Who Should be Concerned about Intellectual Property
The real answer to this question can be everybody. Intellectual property can affect everyone. However, it is the determination of loss or damage due to Intellectual Property violations that will most affect your ability to win a case. However, while everyone has the potential to be concerned about intellectual property there are three types of people who may be most affected.
- Creative employees: Writers, artists, designers and anyone else whose job it is to create creative works should understand that their employer owns the rights to their work as long as the work was done under employment. While this does not apply to independent contractors, it is recommended that an independent contractor and their employer discuss intellectual property rights.
- High-tech employees: Engineers and techs frequently move from one company to another; often a competitor. This often leads to intellectual property law violations, or boundary concerns.
- Employers: There can be concern over who owns the rights to design or creative works. As an employer it is important to know if your employee has created the work under your employment, or their own.
What is Intellectual Property:
Intellectual Property (IP) is protecting the rights to creation of the mind such as new or original inventions, literary and other artistic works, designs, symbols, and brands. Intellectual property can be both, tangible or intangible.
In order for intellectual property laws to be utilized by someone the idea needs to be documented, specific, feasible, and documented that the idea or creation was yours.
What is not Intellectual Property:
Have you ever heard someone say, “I invented the internet,” or “I came up with the idea for the Smart phone,” and then follow with a claim for the money made from that idea? It is likely you have, however, without proper documentation that the person actually developed the concept they will not get very far in claiming their stake at intellectual property theft.
It is a common misunderstanding that all ideas are under copyright, without having to put work or effort into making the idea come to fruition. The fact is that, “Abstract ideas never committed to concrete form are not eligible for protection under intellectual property law.”
For example, if you were to come up with an idea for a roller coaster that travels to the moon, that idea is not protected. However, if you develop a realistic engineering design of a roller coaster that can travel to the moon, determine its capacities and capabilities, cost, and seek financing, your project may qualify under the intellectual property law.
Types of Intellectual Property
Intellectual property can be broken down into four types which can help determine if your idea would fall under the protection of intellectual property law.
- Copyright: Copyright protects creative arts. It gives the artist exclusive rights to reproduce, publicly display, perform, and create derivatives of their work. In addition, copyright enable the artist to financially gain from their work, and prohibit others from doing so without the IP artist’s permission. Copyrights however protect how an idea is expressed, not the idea itself.
- Trademark: Protects the name of the company and any identifying marks that would easily allow consumers to recognize the company. Trademarks do not have to be registered as they are assumed intellectual property once they are being used.
- Confidential Information: Facts or information, typically controlled by a company, and is not in the public domain. The information is proprietary, that is a trade secret and/ or confidential.
- Patents: Protects an invention from being made, sold, or used, for a period of time. Unlike trademarks, a patent is not considered patented unless it has been applied for an approved by IP Australia’s patent office.
How to Protect Yourself after discovering potential Intellectual Property Theft
Intellectual property law is a complex and highly valuable as it protects your ideas, practices, and business. The law protects millions of business owners and artists throughout Australia.
You may choose to protect yourself by consulting with an Intellectual Property lawyer to develop a protection strategy moving forward. However, if an individual, or a company suspects someone has broken the Intellectual Property laws it is important to take steps to protect yourself or your company.