When you have an original concept, intellectual property (IP) law protects your concept and permits legal action if someone steals your work. For example, if an illegal streaming website uploads a movie that they don’t have permission to use, that website has broken intellectual property laws. Ripping, copying and distributing movies is also illegal if you don’t own rights to the film.
Major companies and small-time creators regularly sue other parties over IP law violations. If one party steals another party’s work, they could profit or gain an unfair advantage with a property that they don’t own. This reduces the original IP’s value, steals profits from the owner and potentially harms the IP’s reputation. Worse still, individuals could alter or repurpose the concept in a way that goes against the owner’s beliefs.
IP owners work with intellectual property lawyers to ensure that they register their copyrights, patents or trademarks and take legal action if someone threatens their work. At Beard, St. Clair, Gaffney, we assist clients with aspects of intellectual property law. Our expertise may protect your IP and prevent competitors from profiting from your original concept.
What Falls Under Intellectual Property Law?
Generally, properties with tangible forms fall under intellectual property law. This could include the following:
- Novels, poetry and non-fiction
- Movies and TV shows
- Brand names
- New products and inventions
- Plant breeds
- Art and music
- Performing arts
- Sound recordings
- Maps and diagrams
This is a non-exhaustive list; if you don’t see your concept here, it may still fall under IP law. Talk to an attorney to learn more.
What Doesn’t Fall Under Intellectual Property Law?
Not everything falls under intellectual property law even if it’s an original idea. Generally, the following concepts don’t fall under IP law:
- Ideas with no tangible properties
- Work that falls under the public domain
- Generic colors, symbols, text, images or slogans
If you’re not sure if your concept falls under IP law, Beard, St. Clair, Gaffney could evaluate your work and proceed from there.
What Are the Four Types of Intellectual Properties?
To protect your intellectual property, you could file for a copyright, trademark or patent. Generally, copyrights apply to art, print media and entertainment, while trademarks refer to logos and brand names. Patents apply to new inventions. On another note, some businesses have trade secrets that give them an advantage over their competitors, like a restaurant’s secret recipe.
What Does an Intellectual Property Lawyer Do?
Whether you’re just starting out or midway through the registration process, intellectual property lawyers at Beard, St. Clair, Gaffney could help you every step of the way. Talking to a lawyer may prevent costly mistakes that jeopardize your IP ownership.
Talk to Clients
If you have an invention, brand, design, art piece or another work that you want to protect, we could discuss your options. We may determine whether your concept qualifies for protection, talk about infringement possibilities and search existing trademarks to ensure that you don’t accidentally commit a violation.
Register the Intellectual Property
Once you’re ready to protect your IP, we may help you file applications with the right federal office. Patents, trademarks and copyrights have different application processes–and you’ll have to act quickly to protect your IP. We could help you register your intellectual property and move on to the next steps.
Take Legal Action
When another party infringes on your IP, it threatens your entire livelihood. Our intellectual property attorneys could help you take legal action. In some cases, a cease and desist letter may stop the infringement. If the activity continues, you might file a lawsuit to recover damages.
What Counts as Intellectual Property Law Infringement?
The specifics vary according to the type of infringement, but in general, infringement involves using someone’s protected IP without their permission. Whether the infringement was accidental or deliberate, the owner could pursue legal action against the other party.
Trademark infringement involves stealing a company’s trademark or creating a trademark so similar that it confuses customers. For example, if someone opened a coffee shop called Starbucks with the same logo, Starbucks could sue them for trademark infringement. This doesn’t apply to every situation–if two businesses in different states coincidentally have the same name, the owners might not have legal standing because the situation probably won’t confuse or mislead customers.
Patent infringement occurs when someone makes or distributes a patented item without the owner’s permission. For example, a competitor could steal the designs and reproduce the patented item, breaking the law and stealing profits from the owner. Prosecutors may charge the individual who manufactured the item as well as parties who assisted the individual or sold them manufacturing parts directly related to the patent.
Copyright infringement involves distributing, selling, displaying, performing or altering a copyrighted piece without the holder’s permission. For example, downloading movies online, burning them onto DVDs and selling them is copyright infringement unless you own the rights to the film. The Internet has made it harder than ever for artists to stay on top of copyright violations–every day, millions of people distribute copyrighted content.
Why Choose Beard, St. Clair, Gaffney?
Beard, St. Clair, Gaffney has operated in Idaho for over forty years. In that time, we’ve helped individuals and business owners protect their IPs, enter the mass market, combat infringement and avoid making their own violations. When you pursue legal action, our team could help you every step of the way–including the appeals process if the judge doesn’t rule in your favor.
At our firm, we bring years of knowledge, integrity and expertise to every case. Members of our firm have later held titles like Idaho Supreme Court Justice, Idaho State District Judge and United States Magistrate Judge. Reach out to us today to discuss intellectual properties, business, estate planning or real estate.