Branding is a major part of business marketing and strategy. Your brand is what people recognize and relate to. Within this, your intellectual property or IP is what defines your company and makes it unique. It’s for this reason that companies spend a lot of money filing patents, copyrights and trademarks; it’s also the reason they defend any misuse of their IP so strongly.

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property covers a whole number of different aspects. Essentially, it is the intellect of a company and is protected by rights. These rights defend a company’s intellectual assets including:

  • Trademarks
  • Copyright
  • Patents
  • Industrial Design Rights
  • Trade Secrets

There are also other things that are afforded protection including words, phrases and symbols. It’s important that companies have these rights because otherwise, another company could copy their design or product without any repercussions. It is also there to encourage inventiveness by protecting the value of the work for the inventors.

Infringement

If a company or an individual uses, copies or distributes anything that is the subject of intellectual property rights, they need to seek permission from the IP holders first. If they fail to do this, then they can be prosecuted under the civil or criminal law.

The level of infringement often differs depending on which area of the IP it relates to. For patent infringement to apply, someone needs to have been using or selling a copy of the invention without permission.

Regarding trademark, infringement applies if someone uses an identical or confusingly similar trademark without permission. In the event of infringement, the owner of the IP would engage the services of an intellectual property lawyer to go through the evidence and submit this to the court. In many cases, these infringements are settled before a court hearing. However, they can drag on for some time.

Criticism

Many groups have spoken out about the unfairness or strictness of companies when it comes to IP. They believe that they are too quick to resort to litigation and in many cases, this isn’t justified.

There is also criticism relating to the law as a whole, with some believing the different areas of IP shouldn’t be contained under one law. It is their opinion that these areas demand separate laws as they relate to different areas.

What are your options?

If you believe that your IP rights have been infringed, you need to seek the advice of an intellectual property lawyer. They have the specialist knowledge to advise you on your rights and possible courses of action.

Enforcing an infringement can be a long and costly ordeal, so it is best to make sure that you have sought the correct advice and have gathered as much evidence as possible.

These are just a sample of the things you can do if you think your product or invention is covered by IP law. Making sure that all your IP is correctly filed and registered, however, is the best way to ensure that you have no problems in the future.