When asking why intellectual property rights are important, the most common answer is that they can add immense value to the assets of a company. Unfortunately, understanding intellectual property rights can be confusing and is often the topic of some heated debate. 

On one side, you have those who question the worth of such creative products and projects, claiming that such creative work as design can be done by anyone whether they have had the training or not. On the creative workers' side, they are concerned that lessening intellectual property rights can threaten their creative work. Once a design or work has been made public sometimes there is little recourse to protect the work from being used by others without proper credit or compensation. 

While creatives may have the biggest problem with the public release of their materials they also are sometimes found guilty of violating these rights themselves. It is vital that creatives value others' work the same way that they wish theirs would be valued to help make intellectual property rights more effective.

Protecting intellectual property is essential, as it provides an enormous contribution to both the state and national economy. Many industries rely on such IP as:

These items are essential for a company to stay competitive in the market and provide assurances for their customers who rely on the quality of their products.

It is important to protect intellectual property both in our country as well as others. The United States has been involved in recent trade negotiations that may change the way we do business with other parts of the world.

The trade arrangement, referred to as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, is a free trade agreement that has been under negotiation between the United States and 11 countries since 2008. It could have a significant result for patents both at home and internationally.  

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property is developed by creative professionals and is considered intangible property that could result in the production of a physical one. Intellectual property law handles the rights of ownership for those who create original works that may be used by other. Intellectual property can include such things as:

  • Novels
  • Plays
  • Inventions
  • Company identification marks
  • Software applications

Intellectual property laws were developed to encourage economic growth through artistic expression and the development of new technologies. Since individuals know that they will have some protection of their creative efforts and their labor will not be meaningless, it encourages them to continue to produce products and technology that can help encourage job growth and stimulate the economy. 

When it comes to intellectual property protection, there are three primary mechanisms that work can be protected under.

Copyrights

Copyrights were created to protect products determined to be expressive arts. This gives the owner the ability to reproduce and display their work as well as gain the financial benefit from the work. IP laws will also prevent others from using their work without their permission or profiting from it. An important distinction to make is that a copyright does not protect an idea, just how the idea is expressed.

Patents

A patent is used to prevent an invention from being created, sold, or used by another party for a set period of time. There are three different categories that patents can fall under.

  • Utility patents - This type of patent will protect an invention that has a specific function. This can include the protection of such things as chemicals, technology, and machines. 
  • Design patents - This type of patent will protect the way the product appears from being used.
  • Plant patents - A plant patent will protect plant varieties as well as hybrids

To ensure that your design is covered by a patent, you will need to apply for a patent at the US Patent and Trademark Office. Applying for a patent can be a lengthy and difficult process, so it is often recommended to seek out the advice of an intellectual property attorney to make sure your invention is properly protected.

Another form of intellectual property that many companies wish to protect are trademarks. A trademark includes the name and identifying marks that a company uses to distinguish itself from the competition. The rights to a trademark will automatically go into effect when a business starts using the identifying marks.

If you need help with understanding why intellectual property rights are important, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Stripe, and Twilio.