Intellectual Property Laws

What Are Intellectual Property Laws?

Intellectual Property (“IP”) Laws are state-enacted legislation, regulations, and rules which provide for measures of protection granted to owners of intellectual property works. This protection can be properly referred to as Intellectual Property rights.

Intellectual Property works are regarded as intangible assets capable of being exploited economically and protected by the state machinery. These legislations are often extended to cover their assignees, licensees, heirs or other beneficiaries.

In the United States, Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution empowers Congress to grant exclusive rights to authors and inventors over their works. There are also international laws or treaties created between nations to foster equality of protection between member states. Examples of these treaties are the Berne Convention, The Madrid System, Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (“TRIPS”), etc.

In different jurisdictions, several IP laws are created to cover the scope of IP works. For instance, in the U.S, there is the Patent Act which provides for the protection of novel inventions. Alongside these laws are agencies or regulatory bodies established to oversee the registration and regulation of Intellectual Property in question.

Furthermore, the courts are empowered to entertain disputes arising from Intellectual property matters. In contemporary times, alternative dispute resolution mechanisms are used such as arbitration.

There are several reasons for enacting laws that would protect Intellectual Property owners and their works. Some of these reasons include:

Economic Benefits: In many countries, individuals and corporate entities are able to recoup capital invested and profits from inventions, designs, literary works and other forms of Intellectual Property by selling those works directly to the public or licensing it to individuals or entities who can sell it. Fees for licenses are being paid in the form of royalties. However, without state-granted protection, it will be impossible to claim ownership over these works. This will also make it impossible for the government to levy taxes on the income of Intellectual Property owners.

Moral/Societal Benefits: Recognizing the creativity and work invested in intangible assets like IP gives the owners a sense of belonging and pride in the society he or she belongs. It also increases the employment opportunities in a country as large entities focused on the creation of IP can be incorporated and consequently, a large payroll.

What are examples of intellectual property?

How do Intellecual Property Laws Help Us

While Intellectual Property is broadly categorized into two – Copyright and Industrial Property, there are five most common examples of Intellectual property.
Copyright: Literary, artistic, audiovisual/cinematographic films, sound recordings, phonograms, software are all works that can be protected under the Copyright law of many jurisdictions. Additional works such as architectural and sculptural works are covered under the U.S Copyright Act. Copyright is also administered in the U.S by the Copyright Office. The duration for copyright protection in the U.S. and many countries is for the life of the author and an additional 70 years.

Patent: The argument for patent protection is that inventions need to be protected to enable patent inventors or owners to recoup the time and capital invested in creating novel works that will benefit mankind. Patent owners are granted a monopoly for a certain period over their works on the condition that they make the process (blueprints) for creating such work available to the public. The period of monopoly is usually 20 years. Patent protection is guaranteed under the U.S. Patent and Trademark Act and administered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in the U.S.

Trademarks: This is another big domain in the Intellectual property world. This aspect of IP covers the trademarks, signs, service marks, logos, symbols and many more used by an individual or entity to distinguish his products or services from others. Trademarks are usually protected for 14 years initially and renewable every 10 years. It is covered under the U.S. Patent and Trademark Act and administered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Industrial Designs: These are non-functional designs applied to products. These designs are only attributed to either form or aesthetics and are usually applied for mass production.

Trade Secrets: This form of IP is unique procedures or secrets used in manufacturing a product and is crucial to its sustenance. Examples of trade secrets are cooking recipes, manufacturing processes, etc. IP laws that protect Trade secrets do not protect other legitimate discoverers of the same secrets from using them to compete. Rather, the laws protect the trade secrets from being taken illegitimately and used as such.

What is intellectual property rights infringement

What you need to know about theft of IP

Intellectual Property rights infringement refers to unauthorized usage or exploration of protected IP work. Intellectual Property laws grant exclusive legal rights to creators of qualified IP works. During the time which these legal rights subsist, any unauthorized or unlicensed usage will be seen as an infringement.
The infringement of IP rights is usually civil in nature but can also be criminally prosecuted. Damages and court orders such as injunction can be obtained against individuals or entities who infringe on existing IP rights. Intellectual Property rights infringement can be in the form of unlicensed distribution, unauthorized copying, unauthorized usage, etc.

Due to technological advancements, there are new ways in which IP rights are infringed. Some of the most popular are peer-to-peer copying, digital piracy, mass reproduction through optic disc plants, etc.

It should be noted that infringement can be excused on the ground of fair use. For example, the usage of a literary work for an educational purpose or works that have fallen in the public domain.

How royalty is calculated

Royalties are mostly sharable profits. As the per the information shared by Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), “Copyright, trademark and patent holders may license others to use or produce the good, usually in return for a fixed payment and a royalty rate” . Whether you are dealing with tangible or intangible asset, royalty payments are a compulsory thing.

Royalty payments are calculated on the types of royalty agreement made between two parties – it can be calculated on gross revenue, net revenue, price per unit, minimum sale, or fixed amount. Basically, a percentage of net revenue is given to the owner for exploitation of licensor’s intellectual property. When you consider a fixed amount of royalty, the licensee and licensor agrees to pay certain amount of profit percentage in between the agreement period. Nobody can change the agreement throughout the term of licensing contract and abide to do the same.


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