IP = You Own What's In Your Head

Last week I was interviewed as a legal expert for an upcoming summit and got asked a great question: What the HECK is IP?  It's a term we hear thrown around a lot on the web - but what does it actually mean?  

So the definition (according to the World Intellectual Property Association) is below:

Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.

So think of it like this:

Intellectual = MIND = what you create in that fabulous brain of yours
Property = OWNERSHIP

So basically - what you create in your head and put on the market is YOURS.That is your Intellectual Property!

Then what?  There are certain things you can do to protect that content - namely, copyright registration and trademarking.  

Here are some facts about U.S. Copyright Protection:

  • Material that can be registered: Literary Work: (words and/or text, including books, articles, online works, and computer programs), Visual Arts (artwork, illustrations, photographs, and sculptures), Sound Recordings, Performing Arts, Audio Visual Work.
  • Having a copyright gives you the exclusive right to do (or authorize others to) reproduce the work, distribute copies to the public by sale, or display publicly.
  • Registration includes submitting an application, non-refundable filing fee ($35), and a copy of the work to be protected. Processing takes 2-3 months.

Trademarking:  This is a bit more complicated and deals with protecting specific "phrases" like JUST DO IT, or logos (think the swoosh!).  Unlike copyright registration which is fairly straightforward, for trademark registration you definitely want a lawyer on board!~ 

There you have it! Hope that cleared some things up!