Many people wrongly assume that intellectual property and copyright is identical.
However, while they do have significant overlaps and are undoubtedly related, if you speak to specialist copyright solicitors, they will be able to explain the differences. This article looks at how they relate to each other and why it is important to understand the differences between different facets of intellectual property if you ever find yourself in a situation where you think you might need to use the services of a copyright solicitor.
Generally speaking, ‘intellectual property’ is something of an umbrella term that incorporates different pillars that make up the whole. Copyright is one of these, and this pillar of intellectual property refers to recorded work. This can include literary works, artistic, dramatic or musical works, sound recordings, films and broadcasts, and computer programmes.
As the author of one of these works, you have automatic international rights to be identified as the author under the Berne Convention, the 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, as well as various other laws. This is something your copyright solicitors will be able to explain to you, and it is always a good idea to talk to a copyright solicitor if you think your rights have been infringed upon because there are steps that you can take to deal with the situation.
As well as copyright, intellectual property also includes trademarks. There are two types of trademark: non-registered and registered. It can take up to 18 months to register a trademark and you are not allowed to use the ® symbol unless you have registered something. Trademarks tend to apply to things such as slogans, titles, names, words and images that help to identify a brand or business.
Intellectual property also encompasses design rights; designs can fall under both copyright and design laws, so if you have an issue with a design you should talk to your copyright solicitor. Patents are something else that falls under the general heading of intellectual property; patents require a formal application and they are generally granted by a government, giving you the patent within a particular territory or nation state. It can take up to 3 years to be granted a patent, and they help to protect inventions and industrial processes from unauthorised use.
All of this shows that while intellectual property and copyright are undoubtedly closely linked, they are not exactly the same. This is something that should be remembered if you ever need to make a claim in a case due to your copyright being infringed upon.