Intellectual Property and Law

Intellectual property is related to things that are created using people's mental faculties, including inventions, designs, literary and artistic work, etc. There are two categories of intellectual property. These are industrial property and copyright. Trademarks, patents and industrial designs are classified under industrial property, while copyright covers rights related to music, literary work, artistic creations, films, etc.

It was in the 19th century that the expression intellectual property began to become popular. It became commonplace in the 20th century due to extensive usage with the development of the information technology. The legal aspects related to intellectual property rights have evolved over the years. People who own intellectual property are benefited financially due to exclusive rights given to them for their creation. The financial incentive they get encourages them to further invest in intellectual property.

According to economists, approximately 67% of the value of big business houses is because of the intangible assets they have invested in.

There is a school of thought that projects protection of intellectual property as a moral issue. The argument is that the human mind is a source of wealth and hence the creations of the mind have to be considered as intellectual property. Therefore, violation of intellectual property amounts to an immoral act. A word, sign or an expression that differentiates a manufacturer or products from another is a trademark. Such terms used for differentiating services are known as service marks. Generally, the trademarks and service marks are treated in the same manner. In exceptional cases, trademark protection is extended to incorporate other aspects of a product.

Trademarks enable people to identify the source of a product easily.

There is state as wells federal laws to govern trademarks. In the U.S., the chief federal decree is the Lanham Act that provides extensive protection for trademark. Trademark infringement refers to the confusion created to the consumer, in identifying the source of goods, in connection with the sale of a product. The courts will look into various aspects before deciding on an infringement allegation. The use of the trademark of one manufacturer by another for the same product manufactured amounts to trademark infringement. There are systems to enable enforcement of trademark rights in more than one jurisdiction, but it is not possible to do single trade mark registration that will be applicable throughout the world. The applicability of trademark laws is restricted to a country or jurisdiction.