Intellectual property laws often referred to as simply IP laws, are utilized in every advanced economy to protect the proprietary formulas, processes, designs, trademarks, and patents that a company develops.
In theory, intellectual property laws prevent copycat upstarts from stealing the hard-earned gains of successful companies, pirating them for their own profit, and, in effect, potentially killing the incentive for companies to put money into research and development and other activities necessary for an innovative economy. For obvious reasons, IP laws are incredibly important.
There are some IP laws that are straightforward and easy to understand than others while applying others can be difficult at times. As the saying goes, ignorance is no excuse for the law.
Understanding Intellectual Property Laws
A good rule of thumb to follow to avoid violating IP laws is that if a company has invested significant time into a marketing scheme or product design, then it is likely protected by copyright law.
As we mentioned earlier, preserving the innovative, enterprising spirit of companies that drive economies forward is one of the main goals of intellectual property laws. That spirit of entrepreneurship is maintained through protections enshrined in law that guarantee that an invention will not be stolen or copied and then sold for profit by unscrupulous actors.
China serves as a good example of what happens when patents are not protected: widespread looting of IP occurs, and many manufacturers and developers simply give up on investing their time and money into innovation because their ideas will likely be stolen.
Countless patents are granted by the Australian government and others each year. The application process is generally time-consuming, but the protections that a patent affords are well worth the effort.
As any marketer knows, a company’s design, such as its logo, serves as a calling card for customers and clients who trust and rely on that brand. As such, proprietary designs are incredibly valuable to a company, and protecting them is a top priority for enforcement agencies.
In Australia, design protection is managed by the Designs Office of IP Australia.
The bread and butter of any IP regime is the protection of copyright. Substantial human and financial capital is often poured into projects with a hope for a return on investment at some future point. Looters who steal copyrights threaten those future profits.
IP laws are an integral feature of commercial law. They provide important protections that businesses can take advantage of to safeguard their bottom lines.