BEFORE USING A TRADEMARK OR NAME CHECK FIRST IT COULD SAVE YOU A FORUTNE
Intellectual property (IP) rights are not always top of mind when you're trying to run a business. They are a serious matter, though, and failure to respect them could have financial consequences for your business, whether the violation was intentional or not. An IP violation could open your business up to lawsuits and potentially have a big price tag. Understanding what types of IP exist and how they are protected by the law is critical to avoid accidentally infringing upon someone else's rights.
THE MAJOR TYPES OF IP PROTECTIONS
Copyrights: Copyrights protect the rights to "original artistic works," including literature, drama, music, video, architecture and computer software.
Trademarks: Trademarks protect aspects of branding like words, phrases, and symbols that identify goods, services, and companies.
Patents: Patents cover inventions and protect the rights to that innovation for a predetermined amount of time. These include utility patents, design patents and plant patents.
Trade secrets: Trade secrets protect information of a proprietary nature, including formulas, programs and data. Trade secrets grant one party an economic advantage over competing interests.
AVOIDING IP INFRINGEMENT IS NOT ALWAYS SO SIMPLE
Unfortunately, avoiding IP infringement is not always so simple. Business owners run the risk of breaching Trademark owners IP rights in many ways, so it's important to consider this in every decision you make regarding the use of graphics, slogans and even particular product components.
One of the costliest mistakes business owners can make is using work they don't own the rights to. A good example is when you hire in an agency to source and create content and the agency had used protected IP without permission, a registered name or Trademark.They hand it over to you and you use it, you are in breach and so are the agency. UNLESS its stated in a contract that the agency warrants that all the necessary rights have been sought and granted and can be transferred to you. Not only do you get sued by the right owners, but to get your losses back you must sue the agency. Saying you did not know, or pleading ignorance is not a defence in court.
IF YOUR UNSURE DON’T USE THE MATERIAL – SEEK PERMISSION AND NOT FORGIVENESS
Whether copyright, trademark, patent law or trade secrets apply, protected material must remain unused unless you have explicit consent and the appropriate licenses from the owners. Anything short of that could land your business in hot water for IP infringement, which can have serious consequences.
OUR 4 TOP TIPS THAT WILL KEEP YOU OUT OF THE COURTROOM
Create original images or music in advertisements. Use in-house staff or freelancers to create original graphics, content, music and more for your marketing materials. When using freelancers, however, it's important to include a clause in the contract that states all rights to created material belong to the business.
1. Obtain the appropriate licenses from copyright holders. If you do plan on using registered material, it's important to obtain the appropriate licenses and explicit, written consent from the owners of the content. Without license and consent, you should never consider using protected content.
2. Use royalty-free media. Royalty-free media is often available online and not subject to the same restrictions as other types of IP. Royalty-free media can generally be used freely without reprisal, though it is best practice to give credit to the creator wherever their content is used.
3. Check the European and World Trademark registers. Its so simple and easy and should be your first port of call when thinking about naming business, product, event or service
Remember is you are not sure, speak to an IP lawyer, google the name you want to use and if you think you need permission just ask the brand or company. .Most rights owners have simple agreements and licencing contacts in place that enable you to use their name or trademark and its much more cost effective then going to court.