Not all forms of property can be seen or touched. The idea that someone could own something intangible raises all sorts of questions regarding how a person can actually maintain it as his or her own. Consider a few tidbits of information that may help you to safely navigate the world of invisible possessions without bumping into anything.
What Is Intellectual Property?
The term intellectual property (IP) pertains to things that people produce not with their hands, but with their minds. There is a wide range of creations that fall into the category of IP. Some examples include poetry, graphic designs, songs, and fictional people and places. In other words, anything original that you think of and somehow record or document could be considered IP.
Who Protects It?
Protecting IP is the work of lawyers and other legal professionals. Different attorneys may specialize in managing a certain kind of IP. For example, entertainment lawyers such as John Branca safeguard the IP of musicians and other artists. Other types of attorneys who look after IP may be experts in the areas of copyright or patent laws. An entertainment attorney or similar professional can file a lawsuit if a client’s IP is threatened.
What Are the Consequences for Intellectual Property Theft?
When an individual or an organization is believed to have stolen IP, the consequences can be severe. The fact that there is a National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center demonstrates how important this issue is. The FBI even gets involved in some IP theft cases. The punishment usually involves a fine, though some cases also lead to jail time.
How Can I Avoid Accidental Theft?
Because IP theft is taken so seriously, it is important to know how to make sure you do not unknowingly steal this sort of property. Business owners should be aware that selling merchandise bearing counterfeit trademarks constitutes IP theft. Additionally, many sites that allow you to listen to music or watch movies at no cost may be infringing on IP rights. Be wary of links for songs or movies that have not yet been released to the public.
For something that you can’t even see, IP plays an incredibly large role in the economy. If IP rights are not protected, some of the greatest sources of creativity and ingenuity could be lost. Be sure to understand what qualifies as IP so that you can safeguard your own creations, as well as others’.