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  • Writer's pictureNate Jolley

The Power of Intellectual Property

Ameni. We hope all is well for you. Today we wanted to discuss the importance and power of intellectual property, and we intend for this to be a timeless blog post.

Intellectual Property is referred to as the creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce. If you are a creator in any capacity you have one, a few, or all of these things in application with your creations. Although we do place value on owning material goods such as a property, buildings, or cars, those things pale in comparison to the power of owning an idea or vision. What if someone else owned the idea of the iPhone? Would Steve Jobs still be credited with the success of Apple, even if he came up with the idea but doesn't own it on paper? What about the countless stories of music artists who've had their song mimicked by a more famous music artist? Because some music artist don't do their due diligence on their intellectual property, that idea is now in the hands of a bigger corporation that didn't even make the song. This is unfair, but true. These examples can extend on and on, and this just proves the importance of making sure that you have full ownership of any idea you share, from paintings, to songs, to inventions, to blueprints.

There are many ways to protect your idea, invention or artform. We will list core examples below, in the hopes that this makes you take the paperwork of your artform or invention more seriously:

Copyrighting is the process of ensuring you own the right to... well... copy a work. It is the exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same. (This is not to be confused with COPYWRITING, which is writing for advertising and marketing. Good ol' English and its homonyms.) By copyrighting your work, this ensures that no one can duplicate the work without your permission, and if they do, they either have to pay you or face legal litigation. Any work that is literary, auditory, or creative can be copyrighted. Look inside any book, and you will see the copyright symbol (which looks like a "c" inside a circle) usually within the first few pages. Audiobooks state the copyright ownership explicitly before the book starts. Most music artists in fact copyright their lyrics and audio recordings for this same reason. By copyrighting, you ensure that you own the structure of the words used in your work, and any material therein. Even movie scripts, as well as the likeness of characters can be copyrighted, or trademarked.

Trademarking is the process of maintaining ownership of a picture, phrase, or likeness. It identifies a product as belonging to a specific company and recognizes the company's ownership of the brand. In the physical realm, one of the first senses we use is our eyes, and as such, companies do their due diligence to make sure that their logos, characters used in shows, and phrases are trademarked. This ensures that anyone that uses them will (just like copyrighting) have to pay them or face legal litigation. Many of the cartoon characters shown to us by major corporations (as well as the logos of the companies themselves) are trademarked, such as Mickey Mouse and the Disney logo, Spongebob and the Nickelodeon logo, and so on. Companies such as Nike have actually sued individuals for attempting to repurpose their logo for reselling (the term "bootlegging" come to mind). This is why you'll find others making slight changes to these characters or logos, or calling them a different name, so that they avoid this type of litigation (though if it's too similar, they can still be sued). This is how companies such as Marvel have such leverage in many industries, because they own the likeness of their characters, among other reasons. A simple toy can be trademarked, or patented if it is innovative enough.

Patenting is the process of securing the ownership of an invention or discovery. It is an exclusive right granted for an invention. This one has examples throughout the history of the world. Whenever someone comes up with an idea or new invention, they are encouraged to patent it. Whether it's as small as a screw or as big as a car or even a new way of completing a task, by patenting the idea, you ensure that proper credit is given to you for this invention. This also gives the inventor the same rights as the other forms of intellectual property. (Notice a theme here?) No invention is without patent, unless it is something never seen or thought of. We ecourage you to Google the various patents for yourself. There are many out there for the things we sometimes take for granted, whether its the light bulb, peanut butter, an envelope, or a computer keyboard.

Finally (though this one is a bit more obvious...) having a business for your idea can also be a another layer of protection. If you couple this with the things listed above, you put yourself in a powerful position as a creative. Since this is a popular topic, we won't go too in-depth here.

Although there may be additional tasks to perform for each type of intellectual property, the point is obvious: By owing your idea, no matter the form, you shape the destiny of yourself and that idea. Wealth, businesses, and livelihoods are created from ideas. Lives are changed from a simple idea. The movie Inception is important to watch if you want to witness the power of an idea and the ripple effects it can have on one's reality. We have heard many stories of an idea being copyrighted, patented, or trademarked by another person, and we don't want that to happen to you. By doing the research upon creating your life-changing work, you ensure that no matter what happens, that idea can transform into a successful business venture or legacy for you and your family.

Attached is a brief video on the subject as well (though we focus more on Music Artists).

We hope you will meditate on this today. Ameni.

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