Intellectual property law involves assets that are not tangible, such as logos, company names and brands, various types of writing, photographs, computer software, and ideas. Protecting your ownership rights in these allows you to reap the financial benefits that flow from them. In today’s blog, Neale & Newman explains what to look for in intellectual property law.
Types of Intellectual Property
Trademarks protect the way you identify yourself or your business as the source of products or services. They include logos, such as McDonald’s golden arches; product and business names, such as “Green Giant” for vegetables, “Tide” for laundry soap, “Chevrolet” for cars, and “Silver Dollar City” for entertainment; and slogans, such as Nike’s “Just Do It” and Neale & Newman’s own “Giving Lawyers A Good Name.”
Patents protect ideas in various ways. Utility patents protect processes, machines, articles of manufacture, and composition of matter and new and useful improvements to any of those. Thomas Edison famously held 1,093 patents, either alone or with others, for things such as the incandescent light bulb, the phonograph, and an early day motion picture camera. Design patents protect new, original, and ornamental designs for articles of manufacture. Plant patents protect the invention or discovery and asexual reproduction of any distinct and new variety of plant.
Copyrights protect the way ideas are expressed. Two people can have the same idea to paint a painting of a dog—an idea that is not itself protectable—but one may not copy the other’s expression of the idea by copying the other’s painting. Nor may a person scan and print copies of a child’s school photograph without permission because the photographer (or often the photographer’s employer) owns the copyright to that particular photo. Copyrightable expression includes original creative authorship in literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works—things such as books, poetry, research papers, song lyrics, musical compositions and recordings, computer software, paintings, photographs, television shows, movies, sculpture, and architecture. It even protects things such as letters, emails, type fonts, fabric patterns, silverware patterns, furniture designs, and some aspects of websites.
Protection of Your Intellectual Property
The intellectual property lawyers at Neale & Newman can help you protect your investment.
You must register patents and copyrights in order to protect patentable property and to enforce copyrights against infringement. There is some limited protection available for trademarks without registration, but generally it takes a lawsuit to establish that. A registration provides by far the best protection for your trademarks.
Businesses have much to consider. Your company’s names and brands, whether words, logo designs, or a combination, are the face and identity of your business. Websites, photographs, computer programs, and other intangible assets have considerable value.
New businesses, especially, but also existing businesses adopting new trademarks should clear the use of the trademarks through appropriate searches to make sure that their use will not infringe the rights of others in the same or confusingly similar trademarks. Not only could infringement subject you to lawsuits for damages and an injunction to stop you from using your trademark, but you could stand to lose money three ways: by being forced to give up your profits from the infringement, by losing your investment of money and time in establishing and building up your brand, and by incurring more cost to establish and build up a new brand.
Although some people try it, this really is not a do-it-yourself thing. Protecting your intellectual property rights through registration is an exacting process that sometimes requires a considerable amount of strategy. Our intellectual property lawyers are skilled at helping to put you in the strongest position possible.
Intellectual Property Law at Neale & Newman
If you need to protect your intellectual property rights, talk to the intellectual property lawyers at Neale & Newman. We offer relevant advice and experience so that you can benefit fully from your intellectual property. Contact Neale & Newman or call (417) 670-2520 today for more information.