Intellectual property can be defined as a number of diverse kinds of ideas or creations of the mind for which a set of exclusive rights are acknowledged and can be legally protected.
With the great strides in technology over the years, the internet has made information constantly and readily available. Creative materials such as music, poems, articles, pictures etc. can now be easily found on the internet, but the ease in which they can be copied or downloaded illegally or without authorization has led to owners of these properties counting lots of losses from their works.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), an arm under the United Nations was tasked with the obligation of setting up laws to protect intellectual property all over the world. World Intellectual Property Organization established that intellectual property shall include but not limited to:
- Scientific findings.
- Industrial designs.
- Works of performing artists, broadcasts and phonograms.
- Discoveries in all fields of human ventures.
- Pieces of literature, scientific and artistic works.
- Trademarks, commercial and service names, and names of designations.
Intellectual property laws are divided into several categories:
- Copyright: Basically, includes legit creative e.g. music, poems, works of art, computer programs etc.
- Trademark: This includes patents, industrial designs, logos, and names that are used to identify a business product or service.
- Image Rights or Right to Publicity: This refers to a person’s image or name. The image rights ensure that an individual’s name or image cannot be used to commercially promote a product or service without the owner’s consent.
- The right of Privacy: Even though it is a bit slack in relation to intellectual property, the right of privacy can be used to protect against republishing online content e.g. blogs that may say contain private facts.
- Trade Secrets: This involves business secrets or sensitive information about a business that if leaked out could give other competitors an edge over them.
In the electronic world, it is always wise and important to protect your intellectual property. This can be achieved in a number of ways as mentioned below:
- Clearly label your works or content for easy identification, either through a copyright or some notice that you own it.
- Do not distribute or allow third parties access to download or acquire property that does not belong to you. Place in guidelines or company policies.
- Take the initiative to pursue individuals who infringe your copyrights legally.
- Always remember to cite accordingly if borrowing literary information and also credit sources of digital content.