Just because something is intangible does not mean that it is not also valuable. Sometimes the property that we cannot physically touch is much more valuable than the items that we can hold and see. Both businesses and individuals enjoy protection for intellectual property. Intellectual property, much like physical property, can be a source of great value for organizations. The taking of any property amounts to theft and Exodus 20:15 clearly prohibits stealing in any form. Patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade names, trade dress, and trade secrets are all examples of intellectual property and each of these includes legal protections for safeguarding the value of the property.
Utility, design, and plant patents are the three different types of patents that are available and each of these can be obtained by filing the appropriate paperwork with the U.S. Patent Office (Jennings, 2012). Patents are in place to protect inventors of novel, useful, and non-obvious tangible ideas. Utility and plant patents hold a 20-year protection, while a design patent benefits from 14-years of protection. For the duration of the patent, the item enjoys exclusive rights to the profits on sales.
If someone infringes upon a patent the patent owner has two remedies available. The court can order either monetary damages or an injunction. An injunction can be either temporary, until the validity of the patent is confirmed, or permanent, once the validity of the patent is established. An example of a plant patent would be someone “inventing” a new type of Daylily. I have a friend who I believe applied for a plant patent on a hybrid Day Lily that she created and named after her daughter.
While patents protect inventors, copyrights protect songs, movies, plays, writers, designs, and computer software (Jennings, 2012). It is not necessary to register a work in order for copyright protection to apply, but a copyright infringement suit cannot be brought until the work is registered. To register a work for copyright protection the owner must submit two copies of the work to the Copyright Office. Individual copyright protection runs for the entire life of the owner, plus 70 years. Business copyright protection is available for 120 years from creation or for 95 years after publication, depending upon which is shorter. Restitution for copyright infringement can include any profits made by the infringing party as well as attorney fees and any other related expenses. Microsoft Office would be an example of copyrighted material.
Individuals and business often use symbols or designs to identify their service or product (Jennings, 2012). These are called trademarks and they too qualify for intellectual property...