The Most Common Misconceptions About IP Law

First and foremost, any questions you might have about intellectual property law should be answered by an experienced lawyer. Internet research might give you a basic understanding of IP law, but it cannot replace years and years of dedicated education. So, you think you know IP law? Let’s find out. Here are a few of the most common misconceptions.

So you have this great idea for a new invention. To your knowledge, it seems like no one else has released a prototype. You know what to do: get a patent. Your idea is protected, right? Almost. For starters, your idea is only protected for so long. Patents expire. More importantly, are you looking for an American consumer base or a worldwide consumer base? American patents only protect your idea in America. Unfortunately, you’ll need to make a different patent filing in every single country where you might want to release the product! 

Many business owners believe that the law gives them the rights to intellectual property created by employees when that IP is devised on the job. This is not the case. Your contract with that employee needs to say that you own that IP. 

You were struck with a copyright claim because you used someone else’s IP — but you didn’t profit from it. For example, let’s say you’re an artist who draws Dragon Ball Z characters (yeah, you’re one of those fanboys or fangirls). You think you have a defense because you never sold or profited from any of the drawings — but you gave them away for free. It could still be infringement depending on how unchanged the art is. 

You’re more likely to be protected from copyright claims in this area of IP law when your art doesn’t look anything like the original. A person is far more likely to be sued for this kind of infringement when the art is professional. If your friend Joe is a professional painter and you start giving away reproductions of the same art, you’re in legal hot water.

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