Chances are that you have heard the terms "patent," "copyright" and "trademark" thrown around, but you might not understand what each one means and how they are different. Each one can offer protection to small businesses but they are used for different reasons.
Innovation and creative solutions are some of the most valuable and desirable achievements for business owners. Many companies pride themselves on being in a position of standard-setting and originality. Protecting the ideas and products that someone creates is often detrimental to a company's success, which is why it can be crucial for business owners in Colorado to understand intellectual property laws.
There is no doubt that the world is becoming more technologically-savvy, and the business environment in Colorado and worldwide is turning to online and virtual solutions to real-world issues. Online communities are growing, Internet products are thriving and ideas are being shared faster than ever before. With so much happening online, there is also a shift in traditional types of intellectual property.
Usually a company will pay big money to have their product or brand name displayed in a big Hollywood movie. Often these copyright licensing contracts depict how and where a brand will be displayed in a movie, but two companies with major brand names many Denver residents may be familiar with are crying foul over the use of their products in the new movie starring Denzel Washington called 'Flight.' The problem appears to stem from the fact Mr. Washington plays a functioning alcoholic pilot and throughout the movie various brands of beer and spirits are portrayed being consumed by the star, which has some companies up in arms.
For some Colorado companies, intellectual property and copyrights are their superpower that allows them to succeed and grow and that holds true for Warner Bros. as well. Recently a judge ruled that the company will retain the copyrights to the Superman character originally created by Joe Shuster. Heirs to Joe Shuster's estate attempted to reassert their rights to the Superman character despite a U.S. District Court judge's 1992 ruling which granted those rights to DC Comics shortly after the artist's death. The Superman character first appeared in 1938 and has remained a powerful image and even a brand some might say for almost 75 years.
Brilliant ideas are the heart of business innovation in Denver and around world. New technologies are created, new songs are released, books are published and it seems there is always someone or some company out there trying to capitalize on someone else's great idea. Just look at the number of patent infringement lawsuits surrounding cellphone technology, software and Internet technologies and anyone can see that infringing on the intellectual property of another can be both costly as well as profitable for those who attempt it.
Urban Outfitters, an international clothing and accessories retailer is accused of trademark infringement in a recent lawsuit filed by the Navajo Nation. The suit claims that the retailer is using the Navajo name in their products without permission. The tribe alleges the retailer's use of their name confuses and deceives consumers into thinking there is an association between the Navajo Nation and the retailer's products and brand. And that use of the name and trademark unfairly trades off the fame, reputation and goodwill of the Navajo Nation.
In the wake of the national debate over SOPA and PIPA and the arrest of Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, a lot of attention is being paid to issues surrounding intellectual property.
The personal tablet computer has taken the world by storm. People in Colorado and across the country are scrambling to get their hands on one of these state-of-the-art handheld devices that allow users the convenience of instant communication and computing on the go. Both the Apple iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab are in high demand and one would think there'd be enough target demographic to go around. However, the two technological giants are engaged in a battle over intellectual property and the battleground is expanding.