Intellectual Property

The importance of protecting and preserving intellectual property cannot be underestimated in today’s world, not only from a national perspective, but from a global one as well.

Black’s Law Dictionary defines intellectual property as “a category of intangible rights protecting commercially valuable products of the human intellect.”  Common hot topics for surrounding intellectual property rights include trademarks, patents, copyrights and trade secrets.

Even blogs (or blawgs) are subject to intellectual property rights to some degree. If you like what someone has written, is it okay to use in your blog? According to The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an organization whose tagline reads: “Protecting Your Rights in the Digital World”, the answer is:  yes you can, but within reason.  To this end, the Electronic Frontier Foundation writes:

Short quotations will usually be fair use, not copyright infringement. The Copyright Act says that “fair use…for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

So if you are commenting on or criticizing an item someone else has posted, you have a fair use right to quote.

The law favors “transformative” uses — commentary, either praise or criticism, is better than straight copying — but courts have said that even putting a piece of an existing work into a new context (such as a thumbnail in an image search engine) counts as “transformative”. The blog’s author might also have granted you even more generous rights through a Creative Commons license, so you should check for that as well.

When it comes to protecting intellectual property and civil litigation, a whole new level of complexity arises. A civil litigator specializing in intellectual property may need to protect a client’s rights, or defend said client if they are accused on infringing upon another party’s intellection property. Attorney and blogger Duncan Bucknell has created a list of “50  Intellectual Property Mistakes and How To Avoid Them”.

Here are the first five:

1.      Failure to Protect IP

2.      Fail to Exploit IP

3.      Fail to Maintain IP

4.      Fail to Recognize IP

5.      Fail to Protect Associated IC


For information on intellectual property and royalty agreements see RealDealDocs blog post of July 7, 2014.


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