Arthur R. Lehman, L.L.C.

How is intellectual property defined?

A common issue that arises when conducting business in New York has to do with intellectual property. While the phrase is frequently heard, its context is questionable. Many do not truly understand what it means. Protecting that which falls under the law of intellectual property can mean the difference between a business failing or succeeding. Therefore, those who are concerned about its definition and whether or not they have a case to file for litigation because of it need to understand what intellectual property is and its criteria.

In general, intellectual property concerns that which is created by the mind. This involves inventions, art and literature. It also includes images, names and symbols that are used when conducting commerce. There are two different categories of intellectual property. They are industrial property and copyright. Industrial property includes patents for designs, trademarks, industrial designs and inventions. Copyright is for art such as paintings and sculptures, as well as written work like novels, poetry and plays. It also includes music, film and architecture. Copyright extends to the performers.

Intellectual property is similar to other property rights. Those who create the product or item are able to garner benefit from their work. Without a person or company's ability to benefit from creation and invention, there's little reason for them to take part in it. It's not simply cultural, but scientific as well. With legal protections, investors are more likely to want to put their resources into supporting those who create. Promoting it can benefit everyone involved including society as a whole. Jobs and various other positives come from this creativity and investment.

Intellectual property is often misunderstood, and there can be disagreements as to who had the idea, made the plan or put it into action. In addition, those who have invested money will often want to have a say in the product, its creation and how it's promoted. Copyright infringement, a trademark dispute and protection of intellectual property can result in extended legal battles and a severing of productive relationships. This post is not meant to be legal advice, and is for informational purposes only. If there is confusion about intellectual property or an outright disagreement, protecting one's interests with legal help may be a sound strategy.

Source: wipo.int, "What Is Intellectual Property," accessed Jan. 18, 2015

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