The intellectual piracy meaning refers to someone using copyrighted, or protected, content without authorization. When a copy of a commercially unreleased video performance is released without proper permissions, it's called bootlegging, which is separate from piracy which is a recording that's captured without permission. Copyright refers to the protection original creators of intellectual property gain under US laws.

Examples of Protected Material

Whenever you create something you don't want to see reused by others, unless you specifically give permission to do that, you can copyright it. Forms of work covered under copyright law include:

  • Art
  • Music
  • Pictures
  • Writing
  • Other types of intellectual work, such as inventions

Anyone wishing to use work created by someone else, whether it's for reuse without changes or repurposing, has to contact the original creator and ask permission. That person also has to use the material based on conditions the original creator approves.

The Fair Use Rule: The Exception

The Fair Use rule provides an exception to copyright regulations. Under the Fair Use rule, portions of intellectual works can be used, without permission, for:

  • Commentary
  • Educational purposes
  • News reporting
  • Making parodies of your work

Creators should copyright work and website content while also making sure others are able to contact them for permission when interested in using the work.

Patents and Inventions

A patent is another form of intellectual property, and it assigns property rights to the person who invented the patented item, as noted by the US Patent Office. Patents usually last for 20 years, starting when the inventor applies for the creation to be patented.

There are a lot of things that can be patented, including:

  • New, useful processes
  • New types of machines
  • New manufacturing and distribution processes
  • New forms of composition of matter
  • New, useful improvements of existing processes, machines, manufacturing, and compositions

Business owners and inventors who come up with new manufacturing processes or new product ideas patent the ideas first so others can't take them and stake a claim to the ownership of the new processes or products.

Example of a Patented Idea

If you develop a high-tech water bottle that has special features you expect people to appreciate, that is an example of intellectual property that you should protect by applying for a patent, because no one has ever made a comparable water bottle. If the agent examining your claim were to agree that your water bottle is unique in comparison to others, you would then be given the patent, and your right to produce the water bottle or pitch it to investors with no worry of someone stealing your design, would be protected.

Reverse Engineering

Reverse engineering is a tactic others can use to change your concept when your idea is shared with them. Competitors disassemble an object or idea to figure out how it works and then enhance or change it so the adapted version can be copied. Changing the original design gives them a unique product or process so they can patent it and use the idea for their own profit. Reverse engineering your ideas lets competitors escape the need to pay to use your ideas by making the ideas their own.


A trademark is used in branding, and can be an image, color scheme, or slogan that helps people identify your business. The USTPO describes a trademark as designs, phrases, symbols, and words that are used to identify and set apart one company's goods and services from another company's offerings. Some other examples of trademarks include:

  • Company names
  • Company taglines
  • Logos

Taglines, images, and words are the most frequently trademarked intellectual properties, but companies can also register other things that people use to recognize a company.

Protecting Intellectual Property as a Business Asset

Protecting intellectual property, like a trademark, lets business owners stop competitors from tricking customers into buying based on the belief they are purchasing from the original inventor. Even an unregistered trademark provides some limited measure of protections from copyright and trademark violations. However, registering your trademarks locally and nationally offers the most protection, and trademark rights have to be renewed periodically to keep a trademark active so your intellectual property remains protected.

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