Cases which involve the defending of intellectual property, while rarely drawing the attention other forms of litigation often garner, could easily be argued as being some of the more critically important cases regarding the things we create within our minds. Historical works of art, a poet’s rhymes and the iconic written words of literary geniuses such as Homer or even Mark Twain would hold little value if not for being aggressively protected under Intellectual Property laws. Yet so many still are unaware of just how very important this same legal protection is to small businesses, corporate entities and just as importantly, to the new era of internet entrepreneurs whose financial livelihood depends greatly upon the written content and the brand in which they promote.
“IP” is used to describe two categories of Intellectual Property. The first being that which pertains to businesses, marketing and those who invent things. This is referred to as Industrial Property and regards things such as trademarks for individual and business logo design, as well as patents for products or inventions. The other refers to the protection of an author’s words, a musician or songwriter’s work, an artist’s paintings or drawings and even protects comments and “catchphrases” used by broadcasters and radio/TV personalities. While IP litigation doesn’t always make the headlines, might not seem very interesting and is often even overlooked by many, it remains extremely important to those who depend upon it. Not only is Intellectual Property litigation of critical importance, it has also been around longer than most people might realize.
In fact, one of the more ground-breaking cases involving IP centers on a literary contest which was held in Alexandria somewhere between the years 257-180 BC. Vitruvius, who had been asked to sit in as a judge for the contest, noticed that a few of the contestants had entered works in which they had used certain words and phrases he (Vitruvius) recognized as being previously used by other authors and poets. After exposing the contestants for what we now refer to as “plagiarism,” the contestants were brought to court and convicted for Intellectual Property Theft and disgraced as thieves for stealing words others had created.
Intellectual Property laws protect us all from having our very words, thoughts and ideas stolen and used by others. For those whom depend on their words, creativity and even their performing flare or artistic style to separate them from competitors and/or to generate an income; they would be well advised to not only understand Intellectual Property and what it protects but to also know how to recognize Intellectual Property Theft and be wise enough to seek legal help in defending against it.