For the most part, people don’t set out to “steal” someone else’s property or creative ideas, but they are often inspired by what they see or what they’ve heard, which in turn leads them down a sometimes daunted path of inappropriate business dealings equating to the loss of their business, fines, fees and even bankruptcy. Now that was a gruesome image for any business owner to wrap his arms around, but unfortunately, it can be a very real situation if you don’t fully understand the rules in the land of intellectual property.
Here are five common myths about Intellectual Property.
- Businesses automatically own all intellectual property created by employees or contractors – This is false unless the employee or subcontract explicitly states that the company owns the rights to any intellectual property created by the employee or contractor, entrepreneurs may be surprised to find that they have limited or no rights to the work.
- A patent equates to worldwide protection – A patent filed in the US only protects that product within the States. If the owner wants to ensure protection abroad, he must file a patent in each country where the patent will be sold and/or used.
- If there’s no copyright symbol, anyone can use it – Back in the day this was true. However, with the wave of technology and the use of the Internet by businesses near and far, a business owner should assume that anything found on the Internet is copyrighted, whether it has the copyright symbol or not.
- It’s not a problem to wait on solidifying my intellectual property strategy – This is never a good idea. People are marching around everywhere waiting for someone to tell them about their great idea so they can run down to the patent office and file an application. Years ago, if you could prove you had the idea first, you were protected. Those days are now gone. The U.S. patent system has changed from a “first to invent” system to a “first to file” system, so the one to the finish line first is the winner.
- You can’t get a patent on software – While you can’t get a patent for an abstract idea like some weird mathematical equation or a new algorithm used to convert gibberish into something meaningful, you can generally get a patent on a method deployed in a computer that does something useful. For example, a new type of video card, a method for transcribing code or taking a 64-bit computer to a 120-bit system.