What is “Intellectual Property”?
Intellectual property (IP) governs legal rights that protect inventions and creations. The rights vary with the type of IP protection employed. Copyright is a form of protection provided to the authors of “original works of authorship” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished. Inventions for commercial purposes are usually protected by patent or trademark law. Patents are granted for inventions that are useful, new, and non-obvious. The right conferred by the patent grant is, in the language of the statute and of the grant itself, “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention in the United States or “importing” the invention into the United States. What is granted is not the right to make, use, offer for sale, sell or import, but the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the invention. Trademarks protect commercial markings. A trademark is a word, name, symbol, or device that is used in trade with goods to indicate the source of the goods and to distinguish them from the goods of others. Finally, trade secret law may govern business information. Each IP legal vein has its own bundle of rights, benefits, and risks; a good IP practitioner knows when and how to apply each depending on client requirements. 1
Why is IP relevant?
A large portion of business assets are in intellectual property rights. In some industries, e.g. computer software and publishing, the majority of assets are IP. Industries which rely on IP protections are estimated to produce 72 percent more value per added employee than non-IP industries. 2
Who practices IP?
Attorneys of several specialties practice IP law, to include litigators and corporate attorneys; even more are exposed to IP as an important ancillary consideration when addressing other client issues. For copyright, trademark, and trade secret law, no additional credential beyond bar membership is required. For patent law, the practice of prosecuting patents (i.e. obtaining a patent) requires an additional credential obtained through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Specifically, patent prosecution requires passing a special “patent bar” exam and typically a 4-year undergraduate degree in engineering or hard science. 1
Is there an international aspect to IP?
Absolutely. Sole inventors through to multi-national corporations seek IP protection domestically and internationally through international agreements and treaties. For example, through the Patent Cooperation Treaty a party may begin patent prosecution for a broad swath of countries with a single initial patent application.
What does the DU chapter of the IP Law Society do?
We provide a forum to educate and expose students to intellectual property law, and to provide a bridge between practitioners and students. We hold regular meetings, typically in the Sturm College of Law but sometimes off-campus, and provide networking activities.
- 1 United States Patent and Trademark Office, http://www.uspto.gov/
- 2 Economic Effects of Intellectual Property-Intensive Manufacturing in the United States, Robert Shapiro and Nam Pham, July 2007.
- Colorado Bar Association (CBA) IP, eg http://www.cobar.org/page.cfm/ID/20153/
- American IP Law Society, eg http://www.aipla.org/
- Intellectual Property Law Society, e.g. http://www.ipsociety.net/
- Wikipedia, e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellectual_property