What is Intellectual Property Nowadays, Anyway?
Copyrights, trademarks, patents… There are so many things that go under the umbrella term of “intellectual property”. While the concept of intellectual property has existed for several centuries, it has overgone numerous changes.
Navigating the web of intellectual property rights can be difficult in the internet age. Therefore, we have taken it upon ourselves to make these concepts easier to understand for someone outside of legal circles.
In this article, we will explain what is intellectual property, outline most of the types, what exactly is under protection, and how using Honeygain helps maintain the law.
Why do intellectual property rights exist?
Intellectual property rights started out as “literary property”. Nowadays, literature might not be as popular but back in the 18th century, it had all the craze. People really wanted to get paid for what they write instead of someone else taking the money.
As you might imagine, writing a piece of literature that people want to read takes a lot of time and effort. Thus, authors sought to maintain the publishing rights of their works. After some 18th legal cases, the concept of intellectual property was formed in light of these events.
Since then, the concept of intellectual property has been continually added to, updated, and clarified by numerous legal entities. Nowadays, many things fall under the umbrella of intellectual property rights:
A well-known type of intellectual property, patents exist as a way to protect new, unique, or useful inventions. Outside of novelty, inventions have to be considered “not obvious” and be industrially applicable.
Plant varieties. It may come as a surprise to some but plants fall under intellectual property as rights to commercially use new varieties of plants can be issued to their creator! They can be considered as a sub-section for patents.
Another well-known type of intellectual property. Unlike other types of IPs, copyright protection is automatically applied for created work but it has to be documented. Usually, copyrights protect artistic or intellectual work (such as books, music, etc). One interesting fact is that the information or ideas itself are not copyright protected, only the specific manner in which they are expressed. Therefore, a visual artist could not copyright the paint, technique, or procedure used in the creation of a painting. Only the painting is considered copyrighted.
Interesting fact - the information or ideas itself are not copyright protected, only the specific manner in which they are expressed.
3. Industrial design right.
This is mostly a design patent for shapes, color combinations, patterns etc. Notably, industrial design rights only apply to the aesthetic (or visual beauty) part of an object. For example, Coca Cola holds a design patent for the shape of its classic glass bottle.
You’ve seen these. It’s a sign, image, or expression that identifies a specific brand. Nike has numerous logo trademarks - from the well-known curved-line design to logos like OBJ. Generally, you will find a ™ or ® symbol next to a trademarked expression. Sometimes, slogans can be trademarked such as “Just Do It” by Nike.
Trade dress. “Dress” in this case doesn’t mean fashion! It’s a subsection of trademarks that protects the visual appearance, packaging of a product, or the design of a building. Trade dress applications must include the same content as trademark applications. A famous example of a trade dress is the Goldfish crackers. Trade dress is distinct from industrial design rights even if on the face of it might seem to be the same thing. In Wal-Mart Stores v. Samara Brothers (2000) separated product design (that is not inherently distinctive) and packaging (which is inherently distinctive). Thus, trade dress rights protect the easily distinguishable part of a product.
5. Trade secret.
Generally, it’s a formula, recipe, process, instrument, etc., that has economical value to a business. Coca Cola’s recipe would be a classic example of a trade secret. Interestingly, while trade secrets are considered intellectual property they are not protected by laws. Trade secrets are protected by keeping them, well, secret. If the secret needs to be disclosed to a specific person, companies usually sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) that protects them in case the trade secret is leaked by the person in question.
However, since trade secrets are basically just information, it’s lawful to use the same information and techniques if they were obtained through independent research.
Trade secrets are considered intellectual property they are not protected by laws.
There are other types of intellectual property as there is no one exhaustive list due to legal differences between countries and unions. A good example of a much rarer type of intellectual property is geographical indications. Good wines often have geographical indications that are supposed to show the quality of the product.
As a concept intellectual property rights exist primarily as an economic incentive (outside of moral implications of owning the fruits of one’s labor). For example, developing new medications for certain diseases cost exorbitant amounts of money - averaging from several to over ten million dollars. There would be little incentive for research if any company would just be able to take the new recipe, create their own medication, and instantly profit from the work of another company.
Guaranteeing a set amount of years of intellectual property protection for newly created medications create an incentive for research. Companies might engage in research to get exclusive rights to produce the medication and, over the long term, turn a profit.
How Honeygain protects intellectual property rights
An unfortunate truth is that laws don’t dissuade absolutely everyone. Some individuals attempt to profit from the intellectual property of others by selling lookalike products, abusing brand images, or using copyrighted material.
Finding and pursuing intellectual property infringers was different back in the day. Now with the advent of the internet, there are many more opportunities for ill-meaning individuals to profit from illegally using intellectual properties.
One of the most common examples that nearly everyone has bumped into - branded sneakers that are “like original” or “AAA quality”. These can be sometimes found on popular marketplaces or social media. Obviously, if these sneakers were legitimate, there would be no need to use keywords such as “like original”.
One of the most common examples that nearly everyone has bumped into - branded sneakers that are “like original” or “AAA quality”.
Since intellectual property is part of civil law, governments generally do not do any research. It is up to the individuals and companies to collect evidence, raise a claim, and participate in the trial. Only the resolution is decided by a judge.
Numerous companies and teams of individuals are at least partly involved in protecting intellectual property rights. As with any legal process, collecting evidence of misconduct is of critical importance. Thus, a lot of intellectual property protection revolves around gathering everything that is needed to make a case against a company or individual.
Nowadays, most evidence is collected automatically. Businesses develop tools that can browse the internet (websites, social media, marketplaces, etc.) and find suspicious listings or postings. Usually, they look for the previously mentioned keywords (e.g. “AAA quality”) and download the information stored in the listing.
Unfortunately, website owners do not enjoy allowing bots to run amok. They will often ban the IPs of any bots they suspect, regardless of their intentions. Thus, companies that attempt to collect evidence on possible intellectual property infringements often run into blocks.
Honeygain helps companies protect intellectual property rights by creating communication points. These communication points can help circumvent the blocks enacted by social media and e-commerce platforms. They can then continue collecting evidence.
Creating these communication points is critical to the effectiveness of intellectual property protection. By using Honeygain, you help create communication points and aid in protecting companies and individuals from the misuse of their intellectual property.
Intellectual property infringements are on the rise due to the appearance of the internet. Nowadays, there are much more avenues for malicious individuals who want to profit from the work of others.
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