In the digital age, the value of the intellectual property has become more important than ever. With ideas crossing boundaries and continents, varied notions of what constitutes intellectual property can seem fluid. Anyone doing business in different countries and even states need a solid grasp of what it is. Therefore, you must know what criteria your ideas fall under.
Trademarks classify as any word, design, symbol, or combination of them, that denote a product, company, or service. They are important for consumers as it helps them instantly recognize a brand.
A strong identifiable trademark is also a method of prevention against any fraudulent activity. A recent mainstream example of this was the case between sportswear company Adidas and the brand Forever21, over the use of a design that incorporated three stripes. A hallmark of the brand Adidas, this ensued in a court case over a simple design trait.
They do not extend to the ownership of a word. It only applies to the design element and how it is used. For example, it would be impossible for Hallmark to own their name because this is used in a common language. However, it can be trademarked in relation to the use of the word with a company that offers birthday cards and gifts.
Copyright is much more intangible, covering works of creativity. These could include photographs, artworks, literature, scripts, and computer programs or software. An individual may own the copyright or it could be owned by a company.
One grey area is when people create copyrights working for a company. Many organizations will have contract stipulations known as works made for hire. Anyone working under these employment contracts for a company does so knowing anything they make is owned by their employer.
The market for copyright ideas has flourished since the dawn of streaming and other forms of online entertainment. The iGaming industry is one area that has boomed with the clever licensing of copywriting property. Buzz Bingo, which provides casino and bingo slots online has a selection using the moniker “Buzz Originals”, featuring titles like Fortune Teller’s Charm and Bad Influencers. This label means you can only play these games on their website. By combining them with licensed copyright property from gameshows and movies, they are providing something unique to entice consumers from their competitors.
Patents are primarily concerned with inventions. They allow you to use, build and sell your inventions but importantly, prevent others from doing so. Generally, patents will last for between 14 to 20 years before they become public domain. Patents are not global so must be granted in different areas and jurisdictions.
Three types of patents exist. Utility patents are for improvement and processes, there are design patents and plant patents for anyone who breeds or discovers a new species. Patents are not granted for all applications and to qualify they must be new, useful, and not obvious.
A trade secret is classified as information that is not public knowledge. Exact definitions can change by country or even jurisdiction but are defined as any information a company would not want a competitor to know.
This could include intent, plans, and models. A company must have taken reasonable steps to keep them confidential, meaning many have to be documented and labeled as such. If this information is leaked, it is the courts who decide if it is a trade secret or not. They will look at the extent to which it is already known, how much effort has been made to protect it, and how valuable it is to competitors.