What is considered intellectual property?
Intellectual property refers to a diverse range of intangible assets created by the human mind, which are legally protected against unauthorized use, reproduction, or distribution. Here are the types of the intellectual property:
Copyright is the legal right of the intellectual property owner to control the reproduction, distribution, and display of their works. Copyright protection extends to various creative expressions, such as literary works, music, movies, artwork, software, and architectural designs.
Trademarks are distinct signs, symbols, or logos used to identify and distinguish goods or services provided by one company from those of others. Trademarks can take various forms, including words, phrases, symbols, or a combination of these components.
Utility patents are granted to inventors for new processes, machines, or designs. They provide exclusive rights to inventors, preventing others from reproducing, using, or selling the patented invention without permission.
Trade secrets refer to confidential and proprietary information that gives businesses a competitive advantage. Unlike patents, copyrights, or trademarks, trade secrets are not publicly disclosed or registered with any government agency. Trade secrets include recipes, formulas, manufacturing processes, customer lists, business strategies, and marketing plans.
Tips on how to protect your intellectual property
Without any doubt, protecting intellectual property is crucial. It allows you to retain ownership and control over your innovative ideas and creations, protecting them against unauthorized use, replication, or distribution. While the best way to protect your IP rights is to register a copyright, trademark, or patent with the government and enforce your ownership rights, some other valuable practices should be considered.
Document your creations
We live in the digital era, where spreading data is easier than ever before. Unfortunately, leaks can happen, making it challenging to prove your ownership in case someone uses your creation without your consent. The best way to tackle this challenge is to document your discoveries and innovations.
Of course, photos, videos, and sound recordings may be edited, including their metadata, meaning that your camera, dictaphone, or a regular app on your phone can't secure adequate intellectual property protection. However, apps such as ProofKeep ensure that the proof captured through the app remains untampered, providing impartial, credible, and authentic evidence. If someone attempts to repurpose or recreate your original ideas, you can use your records to prove that you're a rightful owner of the asset.
Leverage a DRM system
If your creation is published online and users have unrestricted access to it, someone may attempt to copy your IP. This is where digital rights management (DRM) saves the day. DRM is a type of encryption limiting users' actions, commonly applied to protect data studies and surveys, eBooks, market reports, and software. DRM can safeguard your online assets in one or several of the following ways:
- embedding a watermark into your work
- restricting the amount of time or number of times one can access your work
- limiting the number of devices your content can be viewed with
- forbidding users to edit, copy, or save your online asset, including taking screenshots
- forbidding users to print your work
Consequently, unauthorized use of your intellectual property becomes hardly possible.
Consider a non-disclosure agreement
A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) forbids any involved party to share information defined by its terms. It establishes confidentiality between parties, ensuring that information shared during collaborations and partnerships remains protected from unauthorized use.
A strong non-disclosure agreement outlines what information is considered confidential, the purpose of sharing that information, the duration of the contract, and the consequences of breaching the terms. Signing a non-disclosure agreement is an effective IP protection strategy that provides an extra layer of security and trust, mitigating the risk of potential IP violations and preserving the integrity of your innovations.
Establish robust access controls
Another way to protect intellectual property is establishing robust security measures such as access controls, especially in the context of secret protection. It allows you to manage and regulate who can access your sensitive information and creative assets, reducing the risk of unauthorized use or distribution. This approach involves the following:
- training employees on security
- implementing strong access credentials, such as usernames, passwords, or biometric authentication
- limiting access to only those individuals or teams who require it for their work or collaboration
- regularly updating passwords and access privileges
Understanding intellectual property enforcement
Intellectual property violations can be civil or criminal matters. This depends on the type of IP protection infringed and their severity. While IP violations are mostly civil matters, they can be considered criminal offenses if the infringement or misappropriation was done with purposeful harm or malicious intent. Let's take a more detailed look at IP violations for the four main types of IP protection.
A situation when someone makes, uses, or sells an invention covered by an existing patent without the patent holder's permission is known as patent infringement. The patent holder can enforce their rights by taking legal action against the infringing party, seeking compensation, and obtaining an injunction to prevent further unauthorized use of their patented invention.
Copyright infringement occurs when someone reproduces, distributes, performs, displays, or creates derivative works based on a copyrighted work without the copyright owner's permission. To enforce their copyright, the owner can issue cease and desist letters, file lawsuits for damages, or seek injunctions to stop the unauthorized use of their original creations.
Trademark infringement happens when a third party uses a trademark or a similar mark that could confuse consumers regarding the source of goods or services. In this case, you can enforce trademark rights by sending cease and desist letters, initiating legal proceedings, and seeking damages or other remedies to protect your brand's reputation.
Trade secret misappropriation is when someone gains access to and uses confidential business information without authorization. This can include formulas, manufacturing processes, customer lists, or marketing strategies. Companies can protect their trade secrets through non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and take legal action against those who wrongfully obtain, use, or disclose their confidential information.
How can ProofKeep help you to protect intellectual property?
Individuals and business owners can proactively shield their creations and ideas from misuse by understanding various forms of intellectual property. In addition to registering intellectual property with the government, employing secure access controls, and using digital rights management, you can leverage the ProofKeep™ app. This powerful tool ensures the credibility and authenticity of intellectual property records, making it a helping hand when it comes to legal protection of your intellectual property rights.
Unlike videos, sound recordings, or photos captured with other mobile apps, ProofKeep™ ensures that the proof remains original and untampered, providing impartial, credible, and authentic evidence to protect your IP rights.
What is the difference between copyright and intellectual property rights?
Intellectual property (IP) rights cover a broader category that includes various types of intangible assets, including copyrights. Other types are trademarks, patents, and trade secrets. Copyright refers to the legal protection granted to books, music, movies, and software. In other words, copyright is a form of intellectual property right.
Do intellectual property rights expire?
Yes, intellectual property rights expire, but it depends on the type of IP protection. Copyrights usually expire after a certain period, typically the lifetime of the creator and an additional number of years after their death. Patents are also limited, usually 20 years from the filing date. Trademarks can be renewed as long as they are used and maintained.
What isn't considered intellectual property?
Intellectual property refers to something that you have created. On the contrary, ideas, concepts, or thoughts are not intellectual property. For instance, an idea for an invention isn't considered intellectual property, while the patent is.
How can I protect my intellectual property without a patent?
Patent protection covers inventions only, so other methods exist to safeguard your intellectual property without obtaining a patent. You can rely on copyright protection for creative works like art, music, and literature. For logos, brand names, and slogans, you can seek trademark protection. Trade secrets, such as proprietary information and know-how, can be protected through nondisclosure agreements.