Are Ideas Intellectual Property?
The Technical Expert Solution for IP Teams
In the consumer-driven world that we live in that is ever-changing, we are faced with many advertisements for brands, with imagery, lyrics, inventions, and ‘noise’ that holds a lot of value to the owners. There are so many brands that we see and automatically know, from Apple’s logo to the jingle and catchphrase of the fast food chain McDonald’s. But for those people that come up with the ideas for these logos, images, and jingles, are they protected in the eyes of the law? In essence, are ideas intellectual property?
The good news is that the law does recognize that there are certain rights that owners of these ideas have, which are described as intellectual property rights. If there wasn’t this, it is hard to see if there would be inventors, creators, and artists that would want to create anything if their ideas could not be protected. Intellectual property rights help businesses and individuals to protect the value that their idea or product has commercially. So technically, there isn’t an ownership of an idea in and of itself, but there is help in that the law does recognize rights of ownership as a result of an idea being expressed.
This is shown in many ways, but one example is the vacuum cleaner. This was protected under the law with the first vacuum cleaner being created in 1901. However, since then, James Dyson has used intellectual property rights to protect the design and unique features of his vacuum cleaners (along with other more recent appliances that have been created under the Dyson brand). Having this in place means that the ideas, work, development, and research that has gone into Dyson is protected and stops any others from profiting from it.
Some of the most common intellectual property rights are:
There are also some intellectual property rights that can come in different forms, such as business names and domain names, as well as other business and industry know-how. The rights can co-exist and overlap in some of the same services or products and the rights could come automatically when something like a product is registered.
By understanding intellectual property rights and knowing the value that these have, it allows creators and inventors to have a strategic portfolio that can help to advance brands and improve ranges of services and products. These intellectual property rights can also help to protect against competition from competitors, as well as protect against investments that are made when products and services are being developed and researched and being brought to market.
A trademark is usually used to show when and where something was created and can be used to tell goods or services apart. When you have a trademark, you have the rights over the product or service, and the trademark itself can, technically, last indefinitely. In order to apply for a trademark, you need to register to apply, and your idea needs to be something that is distinctive, so that it is different from any other ideas or products. If it is too similar to something else, it could only be offered a limited protection trademark or not granted it at all.
RELATED: What are Common Law Trademark Rights?
By using copyright law, it works to protect the expression of an idea. This could be anything from music and drama to art, literature, film, sound recordings, and other types of broadcasting. A copyright will tend to last for the original creator’s life at least. Copyright for brands can protect anything from an instruction manual to photos on packaging.
Having a patent is something that looks to protect any inventions. This could be a pharmaceutical product, a mechanical device or others. There are fees associated with getting a patent, but it can last for a number of years and gives the owner complete rights over how the patented product is used.
When it comes to the design of something, such as a logo or branding, then there are two types of protection. You can choose from registered design rights and unregistered design rights. The thing with a design right is that it protects how something looks, such as shape, color, lines, and so on. This could be for anything from a new style of suitcase to a wallpaper pattern or a clothing line. In order to get design rights it needs to be unique or have something ‘individual’ about it, and not be previously shown to the public before applying for design rights.