The Distinction Between Intellectual Property & Copyrights
How To Protect Your Business Ideas With Intellectual Property & Copyright Law
Your ideas are essential to the success of your business. The design you come up with for your product, the way you market that product, the systems you create for your business, and more can all determine how well your brand and your products resonate with your customers. Sometimes, your ideas are your business, such as if you are an artist or novelist, or even if you have created a unique design for a piece of machinery or a product.
Protecting those ideas will be essential to your long-term success, and a business attorney can help you do it by putting the proper measures in place, such as applying for a patent or getting a copyright. Understanding issues like intellectual property and copyright can help you understand your options, as well.
What Is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual property often refers to literary and artistic works, but it can also include artistic and industrial designs, symbols, names, commercial images, and inventions, among other things. “Intellectual property” is an umbrella term that includes specific types of property, such as copyrights and trademarks.
The creator of intellectual property can retain the full rights to the work, or can share those rights. For example, employees would give up rights to intellectual property created for the company; this is usually done through a contract called a “work for hire” agreement. Some authors would retain some rights to their creations, while also sharing rights with certain publishers. An Arizona intellectual property attorney can help you understand how to read and negotiate a contract to ensure that your rights to your work are protected.
What Is a Copyright?
Copyright relates to a particular type of intellectual property. Copyright gives the owner the sole rights to use and to distribute the work, and it usually provides this protection for a defined period of time. After a certain period of time, the copyright to a work expires, putting famous books, movies, and more in the public domain.
Copyright can apply to:
- Books and other literary works (such as collections of essays, novellas, and so on)
- Works of art
- Illustrations and other images
Knowing when the work was created is critical to understanding how long its copyright protection will last. The length of time that a copyright lasts can depend on many factors. Works created after January 1, 1978 have copyright protection of 70 years after the death of the creator. If the creator is not known, or if it is a work made for hire, the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first. For works first published prior to 1978, the term will vary depending on several factors, and you may need a knowledgeable copyright attorney to help you determine the term. You will need to work with a business attorney to understand how to give your intellectual property the type of copyright protection you want it to have (if a copyright is the appropriate protection for it). You will also need to talk with an Arizona copyright attorney about how to use works that may be copyrighted or have other protections.
Working With An Experienced Business Attorney
A copyright isn’t always the right protection for your intellectual property. You may be better off with a trademark or a patent, depending on the type of intellectual property you are trying to protect. The procedure for getting a copyright, trademark, or patent will vary, and a business attorney can help you understand what is required for each. The process can get complex in some cases, so working with an experienced intellectual property attorney can ensure that you do everything properly so you do not jeopardize your ability to get the protection you want for your intellectual property.
A Phoenix business attorney can also advise you on additional steps to take to protect your property, as well as what you can do if someone has stolen your intellectual property or used it inappropriately. Should you need to take legal action, an intellectual property attorney can increase your chances of successfully getting redress.
Hire a Qualified Mesa Business & Intellectual Property Attorney
The Mesa business and intellectual property attorneys at Denton Peterson Dunn can help you take the appropriate steps to protect your intellectual property, including your copyrights, trademarks, and patents – as well as to register for these protections. We can help create and negotiate contracts using your intellectual property, and we can help litigate against those who have used your intellectual property without permission. We have offices in Mesa and Scottsdale, and we represent individuals and all types of business clients. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with a business attorney to learn more about your options.