The term intellectual property covers a wide range of creations. These may include artistic and literary works; inventions; and images, names and symbols that are used in business dealings. Failing to adequately protect such creations of the mind, however, may cost people in Texas, and elsewhere, the opportunity to capitalize on their work. In fact, the STOPfakes.gov website reports that the sale of counterfeit goods cost companies across the U.S. between $200 billion and $250 billion each year. In order to avoid such losses, and potential business disputes, it is important for business owners to understand how to protect their intellectual property.
Those who create and own intellectual property have a number of rights to protect their works. Some of these options include filing trademarks, copyrights and patents, as well as registering designs. In general, trademarks provide protection for brands, including logos and trade names. Copyrights may be obtained to safeguard the expression of a business’, or a person’s ideas. Patents are generally used to protect new inventions, particularly how they function. Registering a design, on the other hand, may serve to protect a product’s appearance. The PLOS Computational Biology journal points out that these measures are defensive in nature. As such, they do not necessarily prevent intellectual property infringement. Rather, they offer businesses with the right to take legal action in the event that an infringement occurs.
It may be helpful for businesses to keep their ideas secret until they have filed for a trademark, copyright, patent or design registration. Even if an idea is shared or discussed in confidence, it does not guarantee that it will stay under wraps. Consequently, others may take steps to also capitalize on the idea, or to steal it for their own. If the owners of such creations have not taken defensive precautions, they do not have the same legal rights to pursue damages, or to stop another person or entity from using their ideas.
Intellectual property disputes can be difficult to navigate. As such, business owners, and those who develop certain innovations, may benefit from consulting with an attorney to better understand their rights and options.