Intellectual property protects an individual’s original creative works or inventions from exploitation. There are four general categories of intellectual property:
Intellectual property law indicates ownership of original works, discoveries, and inventions. Using someone else’s intellectual property without permission is called infringement. Sometimes using a similar version of the owner’s intellectual property also qualifies as infringement.
When intellectual property has been infringed, the owner can seek damages against the infringer. Damages may include lost profits, punitive damages, and statutory damages. Additionally, some types of infringement might also incur criminal fines or require the confiscation of all infringing goods.
To make something your intellectual property, you can get a copyright, patent, or trademark.
Usually the person who first creates or invents something is the owner of the intellectual property, but often employers contract to own what their employees create on the job. Also, rights to intellectual property can be given away temporarily through a licensing agreement.
The public has a right to use intellectual property for research, education, and news reporting. Often to use someone’s property, you must denote that the work is not your own. For example, a citation in a paper or placing a photographer’s name on her photos gives proper recognition to the owner.
Protecting your intellectual property against infringement is important, particularly to a business that relies on it. Additionally, being accused of infringement can be costly. An intellectual property attorney can assist you if you find yourself on either end.