Intellectual Property, Copyright, Patent and Trademark Laws

A lot of the people I work with are creative.  And, especially online, creative people are often worried about other people stealing their ideas.  This video will give an overview of the concept of intellectual property.

copyrightThis video follows the story of a creative and talented woman named Candice who plays music, invented a new instrument and created a new business. Using copyright, patent and trademark laws, she learned to how to protect and build a business from her creations. It teaches:

•    Why intellectual property is different from physical property
•    The risk of not establishing and protecting ownership
•    Why copyright law matters in selling and managing your creative works
•    Why patent law matters in protecting your inventions
•    Why trademark law matters in protecting your brand

Video Transcript:

I’m sure you have items that you consider your property. Maybe you’re like Candice. She has a bike, headphones and books she loves.

Because she owns the headphones, she has the right to sell them or give them away. Ownership means they’re her property.  When ownership of physical property, like headphones, changes, it’s easy to see.

But Candice is also creative. She takes photos and has ideas. She uses her mind to produce valuable things like music. When she creates a new song, she owns it and has a right to use it as she wishes, just like a physical object.

The problem is that the ownership of intangible things like music, literature and photography is difficult to see.  Someone could wrongly claim ownership of her song and sell it without her knowing. To prevent these problems, she needs a public way to establish her ownership so that she alone can decide how it will be used.

In many countries, intellectual property laws work to establish and protect ownership of intangible property like Candice’s song. They are copyright, patent, and trademark and laws, among others. It’s these laws that allow people to control distribution of and earn money from the things they create with their minds.

For example, let’s say Candice, first, wants to be sure she is the only person who can reproduce or sell her song. Copyright law is what gives her this right. As the creator, she owns the copyright automatically, which means she is the only one who can reproduce or sell the song. To make her ownership publicly known, she registers her song with the Copyright Office.

Second, Candice invented a new kind of instrument and wants to be sure that no one can copy it. She does this by filing a patent application with the patent office that states what it is and what it does. If the patent is granted, she can prevent others from copying her invention.

Third, with her innovations, Candice is able to create a new business with a unique brand that includes a name and logo. To identify her new instrument by her brand, and to distinguish her from competitors, she applies for a trademark registration with the trademark office that describes her business name and logo. prevent another company from looking like hers, she applies for trademarks. Candace can use the ™ in her logo once she starts using the brand to sell her instrument. And she can use the R symbol once the trademark is officially registered. These symbols show that she has the right to prevent others from her industry from looking too much like her brand and confusing customers.

Candice’s music business is just one example. Copyright, patents and trademarks can apply to a wide variety of intangible or intellectual property. These laws ensure that even if we can’t hold something in our hands, we can still own it, protect it and use it to earn a living.