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Overview of Intellectual Property Laws
A wide body of federal and state laws protects creative property such as writing, music, drawings, paintings, photography, and films. Collectively, this - Copyright Overview by Rich Stim
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Overview of Intellectual Property Laws
A wide body of federal and state laws protects creative property such as writing, music, drawings, paintings, photography, and films. Collectively, this body of law is called “intellectual property” law, which includes copyright, trademark, and patent laws, each applicable in various situations and each with its own set of technical rules. When obtaining permission to use creative works, you’re concerned primarily with copyright law. However, trademarks, trade secrets, and publicity and privacy rights sometimes come into play when permission to use certain types of works is sought. Below is a summary of the various types of intellectual property laws that are relevant to the permissions process.Copyright. Federal copyright law protects original creative works such as paintings, writing, architecture, movies, software, photos, dance, and music. A work must meet certain minimum requirements to qualify for copyright protection. The length of protection also varies depending on when the work was created or first published.Trademark. Brand names such as Nike and Apple, as well as logos, slogans, and other devices that identify and distinguish products and services, are protected under federal and state trademark laws. Unlike copyrighted works, trademarks receive different degrees of protection depending on numerous variables, including the consumer awareness of the trademark, the type of service and product it identifies, and the geographic area in which the trademark is used.Right of Publicity. A patchwork of state laws known as the right of publicity protects the image and name of a person. These laws protect against the unauthorized use of a person’s name or image for commercial purposes—for example, the use of your picture on a box of cereal. The extent of this protection varies from state to state.Trade Secrets. State and federal trade secret laws protect sensitive business information. An example of a trade secret would be a confidential marketing plan for the introduction of a new software product or the secret recipe for a brand of salsa. The extent of trade secret protection depends on whether the information gives the business an advantage over competitors, is kept a secret, and is not known by competitors.Right of Privacy. Although not part of intellectual property laws, state privacy laws preserve the right of all people to be left alone. Invasion of privacy occurs when someone publishes or publicly exploits information about another person’s private affairs. Invasion of privacy laws prevent you from intruding on, exposing private facts about, or falsely portraying someone. The extent of this protection may vary if the subject is a public figure—for example, a celebrity or politician.
One response to “Overview of Intellectual Property Laws”
Quick Off The Mark says:
December 13, 2013 at 7:14 pm
What do you think about the idea that IP needs a massive overhaul to become better in an increasingly technological and digital age?
Do you think that the old business models are still as relevant in todays digital world?
If not, what models do you suggest moving forward?
Thanks Rich, I love IP law and I am very excited about technology and the future.What's Next for Fair Use After Google v. Oracle?
Panelists Tom Goldstein and Professors Peter Menell, Pamela Samuelson and Sean O'Connor discuss the implications of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Google v. Oracle, and how it may affect other cases where fair use and copyright are in play.
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intellectual-property law, the legal regulations governing an individual’s or an organization’s right to control the use or dissemination of ideas or information. Various systems of legal rules exist that empower persons and organizations to exercise such control. Copyright law confers upon the creators of “original forms of expression” (e.g., books, movies, musical compositions, and works of art) exclusive rights to reproduce, adapt, and publicly perform their creations. Patent law enables the inventors of new products and processes to prevent others from making, using, or selling their inventions. Trademark law empowers the sellers of goods and services to apply distinctive words
By William Weston Fisher • Edit History
Key People: Paul Romer
Related Topics: property law copyright copyleft
See all related content →intellectual-property law, the legal regulations governing an individual’s or an organization’s right to control the use or dissemination of ideas or information. Various systems of legal rules exist that empower persons and organizations to exercise such control. Copyright law confers upon the creators of “original forms of expression” (e.g., books, movies, musical compositions, and works of art) exclusive rights to reproduce, adapt, and publicly perform their creations. Patent law enables the inventors of new products and processes to prevent others from making, using, or selling their inventions. Trademark law empowers the sellers of goods and services to apply distinctive words or symbols to their products and to prevent their competitors from using the same or confusingly similar insignia or phrasing. Finally, trade-secret law prohibits rival companies from making use of wrongfully obtained confidential commercially valuable information (e.g., soft-drink formulas or secret marketing strategies).
The emergence of intellectual-property law
Until the middle of the 20th century, copyright, patent, trademark, and trade-secret law commonly were understood to be analogous but distinct. In most countries they were governed by different statutes and administered by disparate institutions, and few controversies involved more than one of these fields. It also was believed that each field advanced different social and economic goals. During the second half of the 20th century, however, the lines between these fields became blurred. Increasingly they were considered to be closely related, and eventually they became known collectively as “intellectual-property law.” Perceptions changed partly as a result of the fields’ seemingly inexorable growth, which frequently caused them to overlap in practice. In the 1970s, for example, copyright law was extended to provide protection to computer software. Later, during the 1980s and ’90s, courts in many countries ruled that software could also be protected through patent law. The result was that the developers of software programs could rely upon either or both fields of law to prevent consumers from copying programs and rivals from selling identical or closely similar programs.
Copyright, patent, trademark, and trade-secret law also have overlapped dramatically in the area of so-called “industrial design,” which involves the creation of objects that are intended to be both useful and aesthetically pleasing. Contemporary culture is replete with examples of such objects—e.g., eyeglass frames, lamps, doorknobs, telephones, kitchen appliances, and automobile bodies. In many countries the work of the creators of these objects is protected by at least three systems of rules: copyright protection for “useful objects” (a variant of ordinary copyright law); design-patent law (a variant of ordinary patent law); and “trade-dress” doctrine (a variant of trademark law). These rules stop short of protecting “functional” features, which are understood to include the shapes of objects when those shapes are determined by the objects’ practical uses. Nevertheless, the rules combine to create strong impediments to the imitation of nonfunctional design features.
The integration of copyright, patent, trademark, and trade-secret law into an increasingly consolidated body of intellectual-property law was reinforced by the emergence in many jurisdictions of additional types of legal protection for ideas and information. One such protection is the “right of publicity,” which was invented by courts in the United States to enable celebrities to prevent others from making commercial use of their images and identities. Similarly, the European Union has extended extensive protections to the creators of electronic databases. Computer chips, the shapes of boat hulls, and folklore also have been covered by intellectual-property protections.
Internet domain names
In the 1990s the exclusive right to use Internet domain names—unique sequences of letters (divided, by convention, into segments separated by periods) that correspond to the numerical Internet Protocol (IP) addresses that identify each of the millions of computers connected to the Internet—became a highly contested issue. Domain-name labels enable “packets” of information transmitted over the Internet to be delivered to their intended destinations. The mnemonic character of domain names (e.g., http://www.britannica.com) also assists consumers in locating Internet-based businesses. As commercial activity on the Internet grew, evocative domain names became increasingly valuable, and struggles over them multiplied, especially as a result of the activities of so-called “cybersquatters,” who registered popular domain names with the aim of selling them to businesses at huge profits. The task of allocating domain names throughout the world and of resolving disputes over them has been largely assumed by a private organization, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). With the assistance of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), ICANN promulgated a Uniform-Domain-Name-Dispute-Resolution Policy to resolve domain-name controversies and has licensed several arbitration services to interpret and enforce it. In 1999 the United States established a similar national system, known as the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, which is administered by the federal courts. Under the law, individuals can be fined up to $100,000 for registering a domain name in “bad faith.” Defenders of the law contended that it was crucial to protect the commercial value of trademarks and to shield businesses from extortion. Critics argued that the legislation was too broad and could be used by companies to suppress consumer complaints, parody, and other forms of free speech.
What is Intellectual Property?
Your gateway to all of WIPO’s intellectual property activities, from copyright and patents, to training and outreach.
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What is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.
IP is protected in law by, for example, patents, copyright and trademarks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create. By striking the right balance between the interests of innovators and the wider public interest, the IP system aims to foster an environment in which creativity and innovation can flourish.
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IP and mobile applications
Find out how IP mechanisms help mobile application developers and publishers generate more income from their creations.
Types of intellectual property
Copyright is a legal term used to describe the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. Works covered by copyright range from books, music, paintings, sculpture and films, to computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps and technical drawings.
A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention. Generally speaking, a patent provides the patent owner with the right to decide how - or whether - the invention can be used by others. In exchange for this right, the patent owner makes technical information about the invention publicly available in the published patent document.
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A trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. Trademarks date back to ancient times when artisans used to put their signature or "mark" on their products.
(IMAGE: COURTESY OF MIHAIL STAMATI)
An industrial design constitutes the ornamental or aesthetic aspect of an article. A design may consist of three-dimensional features, such as the shape or surface of an article, or of two-dimensional features, such as patterns, lines or color.
Geographical indications and appellations of origin are signs used on goods that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities, a reputation or characteristics that are essentially attributable to that place of origin. Most commonly, a geographical indication includes the name of the place of origin of the goods.
(IMAGE: GETTY IMAGES/SOUTH_AGENCY)
Trade secrets are IP rights on confidential information which may be sold or licensed. The unauthorized acquisition, use or disclosure of such secret information in a manner contrary to honest commercial practices by others is regarded as an unfair practice and a violation of the trade secret protection.
Training – from IP basics to specialist skills
WIPO runs workshops, seminars and training courses throughout the year, both in Geneva and worldwide.
Year-round roving seminars help businesses, researchers, lawyers and innovators stay on top of latest developments in global IP services.
The WIPO Academy offers distance learning and face-to-face courses. Choose from a rich portfolio of general and specialized courses on IP to improve your skills, whatever your level of knowledge or interest.
Or explore the interactive IP PANORAMA e-tutorial.
What is Intellectual Property?
Raising awareness of IP
World IP Day
On April 26 every year we celebrate World Intellectual Property Day to promote discussion of the role of IP in encouraging innovation and creativity. Find out how you can take part.
Subscribe for free to read stories, articles and interviews showing IP, innovation and creativity at work across the world. (Available in English, French and Spanish).
Tools for public outreach
Our outreach tools are free resources to assist IP offices and organizations in planning and implementing public campaigns to build better understanding and use of IP.
WIPO Awards Program
WIPO's award programs recognize innovators and creators, big and small, companies and individuals. The WIPO Awards Program includes both global and national awards.