All members of society have a right to market original works. From commercial jingles to cartoon doodles, everybody has something to sell. But before being brought to market, the goods must be protected from theft. Copyright, trademark and patent laws are in place to prevent works from being copycatted.
This system functions just
below the extreme of a free market. A free market is described as a market without regulation, subsidization, a single monetary system or governmental monopolies. Here, transactions are at the discretion of the seller and buyer while the government ensures property rights and preventing force and fraud.
The Problem with Intellectual Rights
Maintaining exclusive rights to a creative work is becoming increasingly difficult in the area of writing and composing. The rapid, free exchange of digital information makes it possible, albeit illegal, to download a PDF version of a textbook or an MP3 of a new hit single in seconds. The idea of Digital Rights Management (DRM) attempts to counter-act unauthorized use of digital content through hard-coded access controls on media and devices. Why is it still so easy to gain access despite DRM protocols? Anyone familiar with the internet knows it is fairly easy to download almost anything. For one thing, there’s nothing stopping the user from burning content onto a disc and then re-ripping it.
The vulnerability is inherent and inseparable from digital media. The fatal flaw in DRM is the “Analog Reconversion Issue” or “Analog Hole,” as coined by the Motion Picture Association of America. The fact is: once any digital media is made perceivable by humans, it becomes analog. The analog signal can then be easily retrieved and stored in a non-protected form. Therefore, no matter how invulnerable a media source is, it is rendered impotent by the analog hole.
Consider the Blu-ray Disc, which employs several overlapping securities: the Advanced Access Content System (AACS), the use of BD+ and the BD-ROM Mark. When the new AACS protection was released, it was hacked in a day. When BD+ followed in July, 2007, Richard Doherty of the Envisioneering Group stated, “BD+, unlike AACS which suffered a partial hack last year, won’t likely be breached for 10 years.” BD+ was hacked by Slysoft just eight months later in mid 2008.
Despite the inherent problems of safeguarding creative works, property rights have been affording individuals millions of dollars in revenue. Therefore, it is still necessary and vital to get any original creation protected under the law.
Protecting Your Intellectual
Property the Copyright Way
The details of copyright are grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works in any tangible medium of expression, covering both published and unpublished works. Any of the following would be protected by copyright: literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems or methods of operation; although it may protect the way they are expressed.
Considering the government’s reputation for red tape, it is reasonable to think getting a copyright is a time consuming process when, in fact, it takes no time at all. Original works are under copyright protection the moment they are created and fixed in a
Although it is not necessary, it is highly recommended to register a work with the copyright office. The filing can be used as evidence in infringement cases and can warrant monetary compensation if used without authorization. Interested parties can register online via the Copyright Office website. It costs $35 and requires a submission or copy of the work to be turned in to the library of congress.
For more information of copyrights refer to
Patents And Trademarks
For creative works that are not under protection by copyright law, they can still fall under either trademark or patent protection. A trademark can be granted to protect any word, name, symbol or device (or any combination used) in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from goods manufactured or sold by others. A trademark is essentially a brand name and can also be used to indicate the source of the goods. Getting a trademark is relatively easy. The application is available online at the U.S. Patent and Trademark
A patent, on the other hand, is an endowment of property rights to the filing author by the U.S. Government through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Patents prevent others from making, using or selling the patented invention within the United States. Before submitting an application for a patent, it is advisable to do a search of existing patents using the USPTO Patent Search Room or the Patent and Trademark Depository Library. Additionally, the USPTO website houses a list of most existing patents.
A patent cannot be obtained solely on an idea or suggestion. Patents are available in two forms: a utility patent and a design patent. A utility patent is granted for any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, compositions of matter, or any new useful improvement thereof. A design patent is granted for a new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. Examined for both technical and legal merit, the invention must be socially beneficial and not conflict with any previous patents. Currently, design patents remain in effect for 14 years, while utility patents typically last for 20 years.
Two types of applications are available for requesting a patent. The first (and most common) application is a non-provisional application, which begins the examination process and may eventually lead to a patent. The second is a provisional application, which establishes a filing date but does not begin the examination process. Both types of patent applications can be filed electronically at the USPTO website.
For more information on trademark or patent policy refer to http://uspto.gov.