Intellectual property is hard to define

Intellectual property is one of those things that generally defies description. Simply put, it’s about patenting a physical product so others don’t copy it.

Intellectual property is just one of those things that people have difficulty getting a handle on, particularly if it happens to be something they think ought to be patented but isn’t, or is patented but they think it shouldn’t be or wonder why it is. Confused? Join the crowd. This area of the law is circuitous at the best of times.

The easiest way to begin to explain what intellectual property is means laying out the concept that it’s a physical product that can be patented so that others can’t copy the design. From there, things tend to get a bit complicated when trying to protect ideas, a range, brand or piece of software. Usually, the best way to find out if you need to patent what you have is to consult with a Los Angeles business lawyer with extensive experience in this area; a lawyer with an IP background.

It might help to know that international law has methods in place to protect ideas and, in fact, that happened in 1967 when the World Intellectual Property Organization proposed that intellectual property protection included rights relating to things such as inventions in every possible field, performances, broadcasts, artistic and scientific works, literary works, industrial designs, service marks, commercial names, trademarks, designations, scientific discoveries and protection against unfair competition. It’s quite the laundry list, but it was intended to be as all encompassing as possible.

In retrospect, if you think you have a case of intellectual property infringement, you need to first figure out what kind of intellectual property you are trying to protect. This is because copyright also applies to books and scientific publications, artwork, broadcasts, performances by artists and phonograms. Phonograms are a phonetic writing system symbol for a speech sound, syllable, or other sequence of speech sounds.

You’ll find copyright protection also used in business deals when the property needing protection is something like a brand name or trademark, whose value lies in the information it provides to consumers in terms of product recognition. Another option you could discuss with your Los Angeles business lawyer is trademarking to protect brand wording.

The concept of intellectual property may apply to new inventions as well as new designs. For instance, if an invention is definitely unique (as in not a take-off of something already in existence), or advances some known technology even further, it’s quite possible to use patent law to protect the invention so others can’t copy it for the future.

The first thing to do when dealing with intellectual property laws when you don’t know which way to proceed is to ask questions. It’s better to hire a knowledgeable Los Angeles business lawyer than to thrash about in limbo and not know what you are doing. If you do it the wrong way, it may come back to haunt you later. Look at it this way, it’s your property, idea, invention, show, design, etc. and you want to protect it. Ask how to do that and save yourself some grief later.

To learn more about David Alden Erikson, Attorney at Law, visit Mr. Erikson specializes in Los Angeles fashion law, internet law, business litigation, trademark and copyright law.

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