What is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual property (IP) is a term used to describe creations of the mind, such as inventions, designs, literary and artistic works, symbolism, names and images used in commerce.
Intellectual property rights are valuable assets for your business – possibly among the most important it possesses. Your IP rights can:
- set your business apart from competitors
- be sold or licensed, providing an important revenue stream
- offer customers something new and different
- form an essential part of your marketing or branding
- be used as security for loans
Why is Intellectual Property Important?
To exploit your IP fully, it makes strong business sense to do all you can to secure it. You can then:
- protect it against infringement by others and ultimately defend in the courts your sole right to use, make, sell or import it
- stop others using, making, selling or importing it without your permission
- earn royalties by licensing it
- exploit it through strategic alliances
- make money by selling it
For intellectual property to be commercially useful and valuable, it must be protected. This is where intellectual property rights come into play.
Material under fair use can be risky. To do so successfully, the terms and conditions that constitute fair use must be very strictly adhered to. If the copyright owner wishes to take legal action, fair use will have to be proved in court. (Link to support page).
Trademarks are signs which identify businesses and the goods and services they offer. A classic example of a trademark is the “golden arches” which identify McDonalds. Trademarks can also be words, letters or numerals. Trademarks are used to convey “goodwill”.
This means that the reputation of your business and a level of expectation relevant to this is conveyed to the consumer. Customers who enter McDonalds have a good understanding of what goods and services they will encounter in that business.
Trademarks are renewable for as long as they are used actively in commerce. If there comes a time when a business does not actively use their trademark it is possible for someone else to take it over.
Trade secrets protect an idea or process. A trade secret cannot be disclosed to the public, and business must take reasonable and appropriate measures to protect the secrets. The business must also be able to demonstrate that the secret is of economic value to them.
Disclosure of trade secrets can carry heavy penalties. If a trade secret is disclosed by a disgruntled former employee for example, then the matter is treated as criminal. Intellectual property infringements usually carry fines, but trade secrets can result in more serious measures.
From an individual level all the way through to multinational businesses it is important to get the intellectual property rights that suit your situation. IP.com will help you to construct the quickest, most cost-effective and relevant solutions to protect your intellectual property.