Intellectual property law governs the set of rules and regulations controlling the use and implementation of ideas. Most intellectual property law concerns the protection of manifestations of ideas. Examples include copyright over stories, characters, and franchises, or patents on ideas or inventions. Intellectual property law provides ways to protect your idea, control its use, and seek justice if your idea is copied or stolen.
The first thing to consider when trying to protect your intellectual property is whether your idea has been manifested. It is one thing to imagine a grand story or revolutionary invention, it is an entirely separate matter if you have written down or designed these things. In general, intellectual property rights are only conferred to ideas that have a physical manifestation. This means that the first thing you should do is write down or create a tangible manifestation of your idea.
Once you have created a manifestation of your idea, you can apply for the protection of your intellectual property. In general, artistic intellectual property is protected by copyright, and inventions are protected by patents. Copyright can apply to songs, characters, stories, or artwork. A copyrighted piece of media cannot be used without your permission unless certain fair use exceptions are made. Patents meanwhile will protect your invention or design from commercial use by others.
The length of time that a patent lasts depends on the type of patent being considered. In general, there are three main types of patents: design, utility, and plant patents.
Design patents are protecting the intellectual property rights of something’s appearance and they usually last for 14 years. Utility patents cover the function of a device and last for 20 years. Finally, there are plant patents. These are almost exclusively used in agricultural businesses to protect genetically engineered plants and last for 20 years.
Depending on the type of patent being applied for, the cost to patent an invention can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. Furthermore, there are cost-reducing measures in place to ease the burden on small businesses or individual applicants.
The reason that patents can cost tens of thousands of dollars has to do with the cost of filing a successful patent. There are a number of reasons that a patent application may be denied by the board. In order to ensure that this does not happen, you will need to hire a patent lawyer to painstakingly comb through the patent database and ensure that your patent is unique. Additionally, a patent lawyer may supplement your design with illustrations, diagrams, or other professional add-ons to increase the chances of your patent succeeding. This is all in service of making sure your application is successful but can also cost thousands of dollars and take a significant amount of time to complete.