If you follow the blog, you’ll have noticed that lately we’ve been paying especial attention to a triad of interrelated phenomena: intellectual property rights, the possibilities afforded to aspiring entrepreneurs by the expansion of the internet, and silly pictures of cats. Admittedly, one of those is little more than an experiment investigating its effect on readership statistics, but the other two are most assuredly bound to one another in a fascinating and troubling paradox.
You see, the internet has streamlined logistics for the new entrepreneur and shattered traditional barriers to starting a business. Yet while it has made it drastically easier to share one’s product, the internet has simultaneously made it drastically easier to have your product copied or outright stolen by a competitor. As a business-owner, knowing how to legally protect your intellectual property is now more important than ever.
Just ask Kate Davies.
The Scotland-based textile designer (whose dreadful infringement fiasco with retailer Debenhams was fortunately resolved) has been a constant in our discussion – partly because of my sense that today’s world rarely recognizes such genuinely kind a person as she has proven to be and partly because of her immense success as an independent entrepreneur. Her business – which, thanks to her web presence and creative skill, seems to hardly warrant the label “small” – is an example to anyone starting a business of their own, as is her Debenhams copyright quarrel (read the links if you’re unfamiliar).
As Attorney Scott over at You Thought We Wouldn’t Notice . . . noticed, textile designers in the UK “enjoy much stronger protection of their designs than do their counterparts in the United States.” I would talk a bit about UK intellectual property rights but my ignorance of them would be impossible to effectively conceal (you can just look here and immediately surpass my own knowledge).
And I would talk a lot about US intellectual property rights, but then I’d be out of work if I gave away all the secrets of the trade. Instead, I’ll just give you a quick rundown on different protections for different intellectual property rights in the US so that you actually learn something from this post and I actually get to pay my mortgage. Everybody wins.
Essentially, there are two forms of protection available to you as an American innovator: industrial property protection and copyright protection. The latter applies to artistic creations; the former concerns industrial designs, patents for inventions, and trademarks. The key difference between the two is that industrial property protects the idea that is created to solve a technical problem, while copyright protects “only the form of expression of ideas, not the ideas themselves” (see previous link, which sums up the distinguishes nuances better than I likely can).
If your business deals specifically in craft, look into the copyright resources offered by this post on Crafty Crafty. That’s all for today but be sure to get ahold of me if you’re interested in establishing some defense for the business you’ve worked so hard to build.
Good luck and good hunting.
If you want to make the most of your intellectual property rights, find out how to reach us at our website: TheFisherLawOffice.com. You can also contact us at Facebook.com/FisherLawOffice, on Twitter @thefisherlawoffice, or atLinkedIn.com/in/FisherLawOffice. If you have questions about kittens, knitting, or feminism, you can consult the experts at the Arts and Cats Movement or needled.