Intellectual property protection has become increasingly popular in the last century. Many factors have probed interest in this area of the law. A few of those factors include musicians seeking protection of their musical talents through use of copyrights, companies seek to protect inventions of advanced production capabilities, companies create trademarks that differentiate their unique goods from competitors, and companies like Coca-Cola protect their undisclosed ingredients for their products through use of trade secrets. These examples are to gain an understanding of how and why intellectual property rights help companies seek advantages in the marketplace. Furthermore, as the world shrinks because of advancements in transportation and computer technology, intellectual property rights become a large part of entrepreneurship and product development. This paper will discuss the interesting and challenging topic of intellectual property protection. The four basic types of intellectual property include copyrights, patents, trademarks and trade secrets; we will discuss the intellectual properties in the order in which they are listed.
A copyright prohibits the unauthorized reproduction of creative works such as books, magazines, poems, drawings, paintings, musical compositions, sound recordings, films, and DVDs (Barnes, Dworkin & Richards, 2011). Though many people do file, copyrights do not require any special filing or process other than personal creativity, copyrights take formation automatically. Any creative works created prior to 1978 exist for 75 years. Creative works created after 1978 exist for the life of the author plus an additional seventy (70) years. Copyrights are given to an author/creator for creative work fixed in tangible form and may be reproduced, distributed, licensed, performed, and displayed by the owner. Work not covered under copyright include, but not limited to: works not fixed in tangible form, titles, names, familiar symbols, common knowledge, and methods to name a few (U.S. Copyright Office).
Copyright infringement is not taken lightly. The United States entitles the copyright holder to damages and profits earned by the infringing party. Or, the copyright holder may select statutory rewards between $500 and $20,000 (inadvertent violations) or $100,000 (willful violations). With this said, copyright infringement is often difficult to prove. Two main types of copyright infringement occur, (1) direct copyright infringement and (2) contributory copyright infringement. Under direct copyright infringement, the plaintiff must prove (1) ownership of a valid copyright and (2) copying of constituent elements of the work that are original (Barnes, Dworkin & Richards, 2011). Direct copyright infringement may be excused if use of the creation is considered fair use. Plaintiffs seeking suit in contributory copyright infringement, must prove (1) direct infringement by a primary infringer, (2)...