Intellectual property is an important legal and cultural issue. Society as a whole has complex issues to face here: private ownership vs. open source, and so on.
– Tim Berners-Lee
If you’re running your own business, you probably heard about Intellectual Property Law which can have a huge impact on your business. This law can protect the unique quality of your product and service which can help you with your reputation.
Let’s try find out the basics of this controversial law:
It’s composed of three components: copyright, trademark and patent. Patent protects inventions as it gives the inventor the monopoly on the manufacture, use and sale of his invention. Copyright protects creative work such as writing, visual art, music and audio recordings from unauthorized reproduction. Trade dress is defined as the look and feel of the product. Its shape, packaging and design gives an idea of the product to consumers.
Trademarks are brand names which are labeled to products and services. It’s a distinguished sign which can be a word, phrase, symbol or a combination of these elements. This can makes products or services to be identified easily in the market. A trademark can protect the customers by avoiding public confusion when it comes to the origin and quality of the product. The American Law, unlike other countries, protects a brand even if it’s not registered. This is called the Common Law trademark Rights.
A trademark infringement can happen when two brands are very similar that cosumers would believe that it can from one source. The fake brand needs to be stopped in misleading the public and needs to pay damages to the original brand owner.
However, trademark protection is not absolute as it can have some limits such as trademark abandonment, geographic limitation, and the fair use of the brand by a third party.