The United States federal government and state governments allow property owners various legal rights over certain kinds of property that are born out of ideas. These ideas are, in essence, considered intellectual property that may result in tangible or intangible outcomes.
The basic protections of intellectual property law include the following:
There are varying degrees of protection and steps one should take to protect their intellectual property. Which type of legal protection needed will depend on what a person has created. There are also other variables to these protections such as accurate description, timely filing, and proof of ownership that can all bear on a person's actual rights.
For instance, a copyright on a photograph is actually implied at the time of creation. The owner doesn't have to file an official copyright on it in order to protect it. This has been in effect since 1989 when the Berne Convention was implemented. When that work is fixed in some tangible way of expression, it is automatically protected even if the owner doesn't officially file a copyright. Enforcing the copyright law is more difficult, however, when there isn't an official copyright filed.
Intellectual property law has grown and changed over the years especially now that most people have Internet access. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, for instance, spelled out limitations of use for material found on the Internet. The difficulty for creators of protected works is enforceability. With international access, the enforcement issue grows even more complex.
Attorneys that specialize in intellectual property law are trained in areas that deal with business and consumer protections against illegal use of protected intellectual property. As more issues come to light and new precedents are set, these changes in intellectual property law will possibly create better protections for property owners in the future.
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