You Down with IP(P)? Yeah, You Know Me.
What is IP(P) you ask? Intellectual Property Protections. Then you may be wondering, “What exactly is intellectual property?” Well, as the name might suggest, intellectual property deals with the property rights resulting from the physical expression or manifestation of original thought. Some common forms of intellectual property include:
Copyrights, which apply to creative works, such as literature, photographs, music (in written *and* recorded form -- two different kinds of copyright!), and motion pictures.
Trademarks, which have to do with names, pictures, designs and other marks that make goods and services easily recognizable in the marketplace (think “Google®” or “Coca-Cola®,” and
Patents, which give inventors the right to exclude others from using, making, or selling something they’ve created. In the US, patents are granted to inventors of processes, machines, articles of manufacture, or compositions of matter that are new, useful, and non-obvious. These patents generally last for 20 years.
Intellectual property rights are essential in business. For instance, if you sold quality, top-of-the-line roller skates with the name “Wheelie Speedies,” you wouldn’t want someone using your brand name to sell inferior roller skates. It would hurt your brand! That’s why it’s important to keep intellectual property considerations in mind when you’re making business decisions. Having a unique brand that stands out in the marketplace is essential.
Once you are sure you aren’t infringing on anyone else’s intellectual property, you can focus on protecting your own. If you have a logo, product, or brand identity that you want to protect (especially important if you are a product-based company and looking for wide distribution), you should consider trademarking your name and logo to ensure that no one else can use it when they’re selling their products or services.
Intellectual property can also be protected using language in your contracts and proposals. Using the copyright symbol on presentations, your website, and recordings helps let other people know you own the rights to that content and it can’t be copied without your permission.
Additionally, putting language in any preliminary designs or proposals to clients, before you have a contract that makes it clear you own that work, helps give you protections from the potential client sharing it out without your permission. Once you have a contract, provisions can be included to make it clear who owns the work you create, any limitations on its use, or, in the case of hiring contractors, who owns the work they do for you (in most cases you want it to be you).
If your business is in need of some basic language around intellectual property and suggestions for how to protect your content, the Trellis Template Library™ has some basic language options to protect intellectual property for sale. Check it out along with our other templates!
As always, if you have any questions, please contact us or an attorney in your state. We’re always happy to help!
DISCLAIMER: This blog post is meant for informational purposes only and does not constitute specific legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Readers should discuss their specific situation and considerations with an attorney.