Business 302: Intellectual Properties

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Everett Rogers’ Innovation Adoption Curve

Intellectual properties are the legal ownership of something in the mind

Owning an intellectual property allows you to make a profit off your created work without risking others undermining your innovation with competition

However, intellectual property is subject to legal interpretation and is often difficult to define without an attorney’s assistance

After an intellectual property expires, it automatically moves into the public domain

Copyright is an exclusive right for an author or creator of an original work

Copyrights are an automatic right and registration is only necessary for legal defense

  • A suitable copyright defense without registering is to mail the finished work to yourself and open it in front of a judge when defending it

Copyright is implicit on a variety of works

  • Written works like books, plays or sheet music
  • Artwork of any sort (paintings, photographs, music)
  • Computer software code

Copyright gives the holder exclusive rights

  • Reproduce the work in any form
  • Publish the work
  • Add the work to a film or TV broadcast
  • Adapt the work

People can imitate ideas in a copyrighted work as long as they’re not reproducing the work itself

  • It’s illegal to copy a copyrighted novel, but its plot elements can create another story
  • It’s illegal to reproduce a painting, but someone can paint with the same source inspiration
  • It’s illegal to copy copyrighted computer code, but others can imitate its logical progression

Copyrighted works persist past most creators’ lifetimes

Individual works

  • 70 years from first publishing or making public (if made in 2000, public domain in 2070)
  • End of author’s year of death if not published or made public (if died in 2000, public domain 2001)
  • Doesn’t include anything made before 1923

Corporate works are the earlier of:

  • 95 years from publication or publishing (if published in 2000, public domain 2096)
  • 120 years from authorship (if written in 2000, public domain 2120)

Disney continues paying to extend ownership rights, which makes copyright last informally forever

Fair Use allows educators to use copyrighted works

Fair Use allows free use of the work for reasonably necessary illustrative teaching purposes

  • Educators can use materials in a classroom but cannot share them in an online space

Fair Use also allows for parodies of source materials

Creative Commons (CC) gives more flexibility than copyrights

CC offers the freedom to select elements as public or private

  • BY (Attribution) – Others can copy, distribute, display, perform, and remix the work if they credit the original author’s name
  • ND (No Derivative Works) – Others can only copy, distribute, display or perform exact copies of the work
  • SA (Share Alike) – Others can only share the work under a license identical to the one the creator chose
  • NC (Non-Commercial) – Others can copy, distribute, display, perform or remix the work for non-commercial purposes only

CC License is newer but highly popular because it allows more recognition of a work or creator and flexibility in the ability to profit from it

Trademarks/Service Marks distinguish one’s goods and services from others

Trademarks have a complicated legal framework

Secure any intended trademark as early as possible

  • Every trademark is filed with the USPTO after performing a clearance search
  • Filing with the USPTO costs around $3,000 across 18 months

Many things could be a trademark

  • Words – when there is a “design” element and a word element, the word portion matters most
  • Names – surnames can’t be registered, even when combined with a generic term
  • Symbols
  • Devices (music, scents, colors)

Trademarks are hard to define from how strong the mark holds in the public’s perspective

  • A trademark can only be one distinctive marks, not two
    • Split words and images apart for trademarking
  • Trademarks can’t get confused with something else
    • Generic marks refer to their use (e.g., carports are for cars, not hair gel)
  • A famous mark always takes precedence
  • Courts can also assess portions of a brand
  • Secondary works (phrases or ideas not crucial to the trademark) can’t defend a trademark
  • Trademarks in a different language translate to English before being assessed
  • Very descriptive marks can have a very narrow scope!
    • However, too much descriptive verbiage can exempt it from being a trademark
  • Trademarks can’t be scandalous, which is a highly broad and interpretative definition

Trademark symbols

  • The ™ symbol shows the owner believes they have an original trademark
  • The ® symbol shows the owner officially registered the trademark with the USPTO

Patents are exclusive rights for an inventor to prevent others from creating or selling their idea

The idea must be original and built by the creator (e.g., can’t patent sunlight or the feeling of love)

  • Inventions
  • Medications
  • Genetically modified organisms

The patent process costs about $8,000 across 3-4 years along with maintenance fees every five years of about $1,000

  • A patent must be both new (novelty) and useful in some way (utility)

A patent is valid for up to twenty years

  • If there’s enough money in it, other creators will attempt to patent a similar idea
Next: The Art Of Changing Jobs