All bloggers should know a little something about Intellectual Property (often called IP) law.
Last time on Legal Ramifications we learned a little about the law of libel and how important it is to be sure about your facts when you write something negative about a person that could effect their business.
Now let’s look at something more positive (although with a possible negative twist).
Intellectual Property has been around for many hundreds of years. Generally there are three “baskets” of IP – patents, trademarks and copyrights (there is a lot of other stuff – but I will talk about things like trade secrets some other time).
I don’t think that we have to worry too much about patents for bloggers. A patent is the protection that a government gives to an inventor for the creation of a novel and useful invention that can be embodied in an object. Not the kind of thing that will often arise in this space.
Copyrights, however, are created all the time. A copyright is the right of an author to exclude others from copying the expression of his or her work. That’s right, copyright does not protect ideas in the abstract, but only expression of those ideas in some tangible form. Think of a novel, a film or a painting and you have the idea of some of the works that may be protected by copyright.
Trademarks, on the other hand, are words or symbols that have come to be understood by the public as representing the goods or services sold or rendered by a company or individual. Think of Coca-Cola, Ford, or the Apple logo and you are thinking of trademarks.
Next time on Legal Ramifications I will go into the law of Copyright in a little more detail. Both copyrights and trademarks are great things to own and develop. If you use someone else’s IP though, it can mean big trouble (the negative twist).