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Business and Intellectual Property Protection for the 21st Century

August 02, 2013

Posted in Business Litigation, Business Start Ups, Intellectual Property

Mark Getty, Chairman of Getty Images and one of the world’s largest Intellectual Proprietors said, “Intellectual property is the oil of the 21st century.”

Well said.

With everyone vying for IP power, though, you must not forget that 21st century IP opportunities also come with 21st century challenges.

Because while copyrights, trademarks and patents may be an entrepreneur or serious investors chance to strike revenue gold, how do you safeguard your precious ‘metal’ in a world where technology makes almost anything accessible to anybody with a computer?

Before we show you how to protect your property, it first helps to have an understanding of why IP protection has become such a challenge in the first place. There are two key contributing factors.

#1 – The Digital Technology Rabbit Hole

This should come as no surprise, but today’s digital technology – while useful – also comes with complications. Computer hackers can reach into your company email stealing secrets that should be for your eyes only. Viruses can attack your finances, scrambling your profits and numbers. And anybody with a modest knowledge of computers can steal your copyrighted or trademarked work right off of your website or blog and pass it off as their own. And you may be none-the-wiser.

In fact, it’s very common for images or bits of content to be scraped off the internet and repurposed on a different platform. In happens every day.

Most of the time, these random acts of copyright or trademark infringement go unknown because the World Wide Web is simply so vast that there’s no way we could track it all down. It’s a digital rabbit hole and stolen pieces of work simply get swallowed and lost in the www abyss.

#2 – The International Component

The second challenge to protecting your Intellectual Property is that so many of us have broadened our horizons and expanded business overseas that we’ve created a tangled web of business being ruled by both international and federal laws – all to protect the seemingly simple act of having an original ideas.

If only protecting it all was easier done than said.

For example, ‘fair use’ is widely acknowledged as a defense to copyright infringement in the U.S. but if your infringer is from the U.K. then the same may not be true. Your legal strategy would need to be designed entirely different, focusing on international laws and regulations.

 What Can I Do About It?

First, there are a number of online solutions to protecting certain segments of your companies’ IP. For example, iCopyright is a powerful little licensing tool – mainly used by publishers, web developers and content marketers – that protects your website content from content piracy. It’s a quick solution for minor problems such as protecting your company blog or e-newsletter, which are important components of your overall marketing and business success.

In addition, it’s important to understand when to register a copyright or file a trademark. Trademarks are more obvious, but it can be difficult to determine when a written document is worth registering with the U.S. Copyright Office.  Their website offers answers to frequently asked questions but you should seek legal counsel for questions that are more complicated or before you take action with anything regarding something as important as your Intellectual Property.

Finally, in order to truly protect your investments, you must possess a basic understanding of IP law in the U.S. – which is governed by both federal and state laws.

California anti-piracy law is a complex weave of case law but many definitions remain undefined and cloudy. Social networks, for example, present a challenge when it comes to determining fair use. Very few California Supreme Court cases have gone so far as to create meaningful precedence on a divided IP issue.

Furthermore, state findings must not be confused with federal law, which always trumps state courts. The Lanham Act was enacted in 1946 through power granted by the Commerce Clause. This is the foundation for all other IP law in the United States. Do you due diligence in researching this topic.

Your companies’ IP warrants a well-devised, cost-effective strategy for protection in the 21st century world of high-speed business technology. Tony T. Liu is an experienced Intellectual Property Litigation Attorney who can help you protect one of your most valuable company assets while keeping your company goals in mind. Contact us today for more details.