Intellectual property rights is an area of the law which business owners must be familiar with in order to protect themselves. Of course, there is no need for a business owner to have a deep understanding of the legal details of intellectual property but at the very least they must have a basic understanding of the highlights of this branch of the legal system. We spoke to the team at TME Enterprises who specialize in intellectual property, to explain further what businesses need to know about these laws and acts, and what the rights are that we should be familiar with.
Intellectual property laws began in order to protect people who had created something. The idea is that if someone creates something original that the person who created it should have sole power over who uses it. For many years when these laws were not in place you would find big companies using the creations of people without the power that the companies did, thus losing their ideas.
The reasons why a business owner needs to have a basic understanding of these laws is because they can be very easy to infringe, some people even do so without realizing that they have done it. The consequences for breaking these laws can be as light as receive a warning to as heavy as having a lawsuit brought against them which will be expensive and time consuming, not to mention stressful.
As we mentioned you do not need to know all about intellectual property but you must understand the key rights and the most common laws which are flouted.
Trademarks protect symbols, signs and logos which are created and used to identify a company. Think for example of the crest which Alfa Romeo use on their cars, nobody else is able to use a similar logo.
Copyright protects artistic creations such as poetry, written word, music, computer code and even the drawings of an architect. Once these pieces of content have been copyrighted they cannot be used unless they have the creators permission.
When an inventor creates something which is unique they can have it patented which means that they have sole responsibility over their creation. This is vital in ensuring that nobody profits from their work.
A business has the exclusive rights to any formulas, systems, devices, methods, designs or plans which are created within the business and no other company is allowed to obtain and use these for profit.
Businesses are restricted from suing illicit tactics to gain an advantage over their competition. Tactics include trademark infringement, false advertising and trade defamation. These are used to protect companies from other businesses gaining the upper hand through practices which fall under the act of unfair competition.
Once you get to know these rights you will be able to make smarter decisions around your business and ensure that you do not fall foul of intellectual property laws.