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Debunking 4 Common Myths About Intellectual Property Law

Law Blog

Misconceptions regarding intellectual property law are responsible for a number of commercial lawsuits across the United States each year. Because the concept of intellectual property is constantly evolving, it's challenging for many people to understand what's covered versus what isn't covered. Specifically, there are a few commonly perpetuated myths regarding intellectual property law that many people believe to be true that simply aren't.

Myth 1: Anything is Fair Use, As Long as You're Not Selling It

One of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to intellectual property and copyright protection is that as long as you're not using the protected material for commercial gain, you cannot be sued. Unfortunately, this couldn't be further from the truth; if somebody has an intellectual copyright on something--such as a song--and you use it without their permission without monetary gain (perhaps you use the song for a slideshow that you post online), you can still be legally sued.

Myth 2: There's No Rush to Figure Out an Intellectual Copyright

If you have intellectual property that you'd like to copyright, you might feel like there's no need to rush the process. After all, as long as you're the first one to come up with the idea and can prove it, you're fine...right? Not necessarily. In recent years, patent offices have begun moving away from the "first to invent" method to the "first to file" method. This means that somebody with the same idea as you can obtain an intellectual copyright on it before you, even if you technically had the idea sooner.

Myth 3: Businesses Own the Intellectual Property of Their Employees

If you're a business owner, you might subscribe to the assumption that you own any and all intellectual property created by your employees at the workplace. However, this is generally not the case; the only way in which this would be true is if you drew up a contract explicitly stating this and your employees willingly signed it. Otherwise, their intellectual property is still their own, regardless of where it was created.

Myth 4: An Intellectual Copyright is Valid Across the Globe

Finally, understand that if you do file a copyright for your own intellectual property, you shouldn't automatically assume that your protection will cross country borders. Generally, a copyright obtained from the United States patent office will only apply within the United States; for further protection, you'll need to work with patent offices in other countries individually.

Contact a commercial litigation attorney, like those at FactorLaw, to learn more about copyright law.


9 September 2015