What is intellectual property?
Intellectual property law protects copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and patents. Copyrights refer to any original work of authorship and cover creative works such as literature, illustrations, films, and songs. Trademarks cover branding such as a business or product name, symbols or slogans associated with a particular entity or person. Trade Secrets cover propriety business information such as recipes, formulas, and processes. Patents are granted as an exclusive right to the inventor for new and novel inventions, such as a device, design, or method.
Why should you care?
Imagine a scenario where you have worked hard and created something you were extremely proud of. You've shared your creation with others without thinking about the future. Next thing you know, your creation has gone viral and someone has stolen your idea. You try to protect your property by going through the necessary procedures, but it is too late and someone has already claimed the work, invention, product or service as their own intellectual property.
Don't be that person who didn't take the necessary precautions and lost the rights to your creation. Knowing the basics of intellectual property will help protect your intellectual property rights and avoid infringing upon the rights of others.
The benefits of registration
There are many benefits resulting from the registration of your intellectual property.
First, registration will protect your work by, in most instances, giving you the right to bring legal action against others who infringe upon your rights (you don't need a trademark registration to bring a trademark infringement law suit).
Second, your registration will put others on notice of your ownership and claim of exclusive rights in your intellectual property so they will be less likely to take steps that will infringe on your rights. Registration will also give you the ability to potentially protect against importation of infringing copies or foreign goods into the U.S.
Third, the search process you will (hopefully) undertake prior to registration to find others' similar marks, creative works or inventions that pre-date your intellectual property will help you ensure that you are not infringing upon another's intellectual property. This search process will help you avoid costly lawsuits resulting from your accidental infringement of another's work.
Fourth, your registration will increase the value and reputation of your intellectual property. Through registration, you can show your competitors, customers, sponsors, and investors that intend to protect and enforce your intellectual property rights.
How to register
You can apply for registration of your trademarks and patents athttps://www.uspto.gov/ and you can apply for registration of your creative works (copyrights) at https://www.copyright.gov/. Both websites contain educational materials about application and registration. However, in order to avoid mistakes that might cost you dearly in the future and risk losing your IP rights, we highly recommend that you consult with an experienced IP lawyer prior to application. Res Nova Law attorneys can help you with that or we can refer you on if it's not a good fit.