Intellectual Property: Manage & Protect

Posted by Jordan Muela in Property Management Articles

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property is considered any commercial or artistic creation, unique name, logo, or symbol, designed to be used commercially. Intellectual property can include protection by a patent, trademark, or copyright. Patents are used to protect inventions. Further, trademarks can be used to protect branding devices such as logos or slogans. Copyrights are used to protect artistic creations including but not limited to books, music, and film.

Why Intellectual Property is Protected

Intellectual Property Infringement is more of a risk today than at any point in history. This is mostly as a result of extreme popularity of the Internet. With an unprecedented increase in the exchange of information, has come the unprecedented rise of intellectual property theft, commonly referred to piracy. Domestic companies face counterfeit imports while exporters face unfair competition overseas.

These issues of counterfeit goods do not simply affect a company's income, but can also affect the health and safety of consumers.

How Can I Protect my Intellectual Property?

PatentsAn inventor can gain the property rights to his or her invention for up to twenty years by obtaining a patent. Patents are extremely important to the inventor, and though patents are territorial, meaning they are only valid in the country in which the patent was obtained, they are essential for the discerning inventor looking to protect his or her intellectual property. When a patent is approved or pending, it does not give the inventor the right to bring the product to market, but rather it prevents others from doing so.

TrademarksA trademark is a distinguishing word, phrase (slogan), or symbol typically used as branding by the company to encourage consumer recognition of the company. Different from patents, trademarks do not stop another company from producing a particular good, but rather prevents deliberate attempt to confuse the consumer by passing one company's product as another's .

CopyrightsAuthors of “original works of authorship,” such as literary and dramatic works, musical compositions, and pieces of art, should copyright their work. This general rule applies whether or not the work is published, as unpublished work is also vulnerable to be the subject of intellectual property theft. Like trademarks, this protection does not prevent others from producing similar products (classical music CDs , car manuals) but rather protects the form of expression.

Who Can Help Me Protect My Intellectual Property?

National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center – This organization protects the US from the dangers inherent in counterfeit goods arriving within the country’s borders. It does this by deterring entities which would attempt to import dangerous counterfeit goods. Also, it investigates major criminal organizations and entities using the Internet for the purpose of perpetrating intellectual property rights violations.

Office of the United States Trade RepresentativeThe USTR is develops and coordinates international trade for the United States. Also, it negotiates trading costs with other countries. One of its goals, with its annual Special 301 Report ,is to identify countries the US should pay special attention to. These countries, according to the report, pose an increased risk to the United States’ interests by being more likely to cause intellectual property rights issues.

IPR Organizations

National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Coordination Center – This site will gives Americans the resources they need to proactively protect their goods along with allowing them an avenue for reporting past IPR violations

United States Copyright Office – Not only does this site provide further information about copyrights, but provides means of obtaining and registering these copyrights.

United States Patent and Trademark Office – An agency of the department of commerce, the USPTO is the place to go to register patents and trademarks and protect intellectual property.

Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section – The Internet has made it easier than ever to commit intellectual property rights violations. For that reason, the United States Department of Justice has committed an entire section of their efforts to stop IPR violations through the computer.

Intellectual Property Rights SearchIPSR is a database people can search to find intellectual property rights records.

Avoid Intellectual Property Infringement

Copyright Infringement

Avoiding copyright infringement is important to avoid lawsuit, as well as, deformation of reputation. Reputation is important in the commercial market to establish a relationship customers. The principle is to not claim one’s intellectual property. This may not be as simple as it seems. Situations can easily arise when an honest person can accidentally commit an intellectual property violation, being entirely unaware of the infringement until after publication. Therefore, it is important to be informed about what intellectual property is, how it is protected, what is actually protected, who is responsible for protection, and steps to take to avoid accidental theft. Before publication or commercial use of a new venture, conduct research and if there is already a protected essence of the property, obtain permission from owner prior to continuing.


Avoiding plagiarism is a rather straightforward issue but the the frequency with which people encounter unintentional plagiarism has led to many publications of the rules regarding this issue. Since research is a major component of academia, students are at a high risk for unintentional plagiarism. The common denominator of these rules revolves around citing the words or ideas of another's work. Reiteration of the verbatim words must be formatted with quotation marks and cited. Paraphrasing must also be cited. And when in doubt, obtain permission from author or consult a trusted person who is knowledgeable about intellectual property issues.

Scientific Misconduct

Infringement is not only an issue in the creative arts, but extends also into the academic. Scientific Misconduct is a major issue within intellectual property law, and is an instance of someone not giving credit for certain ideas for the purpose of unethically giving credit to another scientist. In order to avoid this type of IPR violation, original ideas and research efforts should given credit and allowed the opportunity to give permission of use.


Mostly an issue in the creative arts, there are simple steps artists can take to avoid litigation due to this IPR violation. Appropriation of art is any work which relies on the the creation of another's work without obtaining permission and giving credit to the original piece.The general intention of the reuse may be to pay homage to the original piece however, without permission, it is still considered a IPR issue. Appropriation is not limited to the musician world.

Musical Sampling

A musician can choose to use part of another artist's song in a new song, such as a melody or vocal line. This is considered musical sampling. In relation to appropriation mentioned above, musical sampling is the term used after someone has obtained permission to use another musicians work to further their own. Without this permission, use of the song would, as in all cases of copyright infringement, be considered piracy and is punishable through the courts.

Fair Use

The intellectual property landscape is not as bleak as it seems, however. There is some common sense to be had among the various technicalities of IP law. One example of this is called fair use. Basically, fair use laws state that if someone is going to use a copyrighted work for commentary, criticism, or parody, there can be no legal ramifications.


There is also the issue of Cryptomnesia, which can be difficult to avoid and even more difficult to prove as a defense again IPR violations. It is an instance when a person mistakes another's work as an original idea. An example of this would be if a musician creates a song believing it to be an original work but unknowingly uses the melody of another song. Unlike sampling, the musician did not intend to reuse this melody and honestly created the song to be an original piece of work. This can be difficult to avoid since the artist is unaware that IPR violation has occurred. Artists can seek the opinions of peers prior to publication in an attempt to lower the risk of this occurrence.

Trademark and Patent Infringement

Avoiding trademark and patent infringement is a rather easy task with the help of the Internet . There are searchable online databases with all necessary information about registered trademarks and patents. This can be important not only because it protects the legal rights of others who registered the patents and trademarks, but because it reduces the frequency of accidental occurrences of IPR violations.


Piracy is a major issue since the common use of the Internet. This may be because, many people do not perceive the illegal downloading of an album to be equivalent to stealing a CD from a store. The ease of download and the relative anonymity of the computer encourages all types of people to commit piracy. Because of this, there has been a rise in piracy in terms of software, music, and many other digital products. Without a tangible product, people are more willing to own pirated merchandise. In order to avoid doing so unintentionally, consumers should be aware of the terms and conditions of the products they own, and the terms and conditions of anything they download for free on the Internet. Generally, if something which usually costs money to own is free, it is likely to be considered piracy.

More Information – This website is a comprehensive resource to Copyrights.

Copyright & Fair Use – This site from Stanford, provides information about Copyright and Fair Use issues.

Free Patents Online – Here is a searchable database for Patents.

International Trademark Association – Here, trademarks can be purchased to protect commercial branding property internationally.

Google Patents – Another search engine dedicated to searching through over 7 million patents the world over.

United States Patent and Trademark Office – All the documentation, applications, etc., one might need to register a trademark. –This site is a comprehensive resource to plagiarism.

Purdue Online Writing Lab – OWL is a great resource for writers both academic and creative, and the people at this site know plagiarism is not always a black and white issue. Here are some clarifications.

TurnItIn .com – Turn It In is a great resource used by many colleges to be sure that students are not plagiarizing their work.

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