Understanding Intellectual Property and Copyright Ownership

In the age of copy-and-paste, anything can be scattered all over the Internet in a matter of minutes. It can be very difficult to establish original ownership of an idea, design, work of art, or other product once it has been disseminated or copied by other people. Violation of copyright and intellectual property rights can be particularly harmful for artists, musicians, writers, and other professionals whose ability to capitalize on the success of their creative works is the basis for achieving recognition, procuring opportunities, and generating income. Such people are robbed of all the above when their work is copied and exploited for someone else’s gain. If you have written, drawn, recorded, or otherwise created something you may wish to capitalize on in the future, you can get ahead of the curve by establishing your creative product as your intellectual property.

What Qualifies as Intellectual Property?

According to the Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in July of 1967, intellectual property rights apply to the following:

  • Literature
  • Art
  • Scientific works and discoveries
  • Industrial and engineering designs
  • Broadcasts and performances of artistic works
  • Logos, trademarks, commercial names

How Is Intellectual Property Established?

Trademarks, logos, pieces of writing, and virtually any other unique product created by the human mind can be subject to copyright and intellectual property laws. In order to establish ownership over an idea, product, formula, or other invention, you must protect it by getting a patent. By establishing that a certain idea belongs to you, you protect your legal rights to that idea.

Intellectual property is divvied up into two categories: industrial property and copyright. Industrial property typically refers to designs and inventions for machinery, physical products, etc., and does require a patent to become effective. Copyright, on the other hand, does not necessarily require a patent. A work is considered copyrighted once it takes a manifest, physical form, such as a recording on a CD, a painted canvas, or a manuscript. Once it takes a tangible form, it is considered “fixed,” at which point the work itself is automatically copyrighted. However, copyright does not protect the unique process, ideas, and methodology that contributed to that creative work, only the final product itself.

Can Someone Else Copyright My Work?

There are some circumstances under which someone else may have the copyright to your work. If the work in question was done for an employer as part of your job, your employer most likely owns the copyright. This is also typically true when work is performed on a contractual or freelance basis. In cases in which the copyright is sold to another person, the creator or original copyright holder does not maintain any claim to the copyright or the original work.

In cases involving multiple creators, a copyright can be shared jointly by the producers. This can occur when two or more people work to create a single product or pool their individual works to form one product.

What Are My Rights as a Copyright Owner?

If you own a copyright, you are afforded exclusive rights regarding what happens to the copyrighted material. First of all, copyright ownership legally allows you to reproduce and distribute the work to others. It also allows you to creative adaptations and derivative works, using the protected material as a basis. Owning a copyright also allows you to perform or display the work in question. Any of these rights and privileges may be licensed or sold to other parties at the discretion of the copyright owner.

Speak with a Business Litigation Attorney Immediately if Your Intellectual Property has Been Stolen

If your copyrighted or intellectual property is being used without your consent, your first response should be to contact a qualified legal representative to aggressively seek justice on your behalf. When your property or ideas are used, distributed, reproduced, and/or altered without your consent, you may experience major economic losses, which can continue to grow as long as you wait to take action. Even if you aren’t sure whether someone has violated your intellectual property rights, it is always best to consult with an experienced intellectual property lawyer right away.

If you are in need of an business litigation lawyer in Dallas, let MR Civil Justice take your case and apply our 40 years of experience to your case. We offer free case evaluations and can help you figure out your next steps today.

Call (214) 307-8387 or contact our firmto schedule your first meeting with us.