The world is seeking creative ideas and innovation. Those who have been able to create something truly novel have become the leaders of today's technological advances and have truly become known as some of the great thinkers of the day. However, this doesn't come easy or without risk. For every great work of art, there is a potential thief.
"Good artists copy. Great artists steal." Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were both known to have quoted the great artist, Picasso in the early days of the internet and computer innovation, which had an ironic appeal later when Jobs accused Gates of stealing some of his own ideas for his Windows operating system. Both of these great innovators came up in the day when everything was being given away or traded like candy from companies such as Xerox and IBM, simply because they didn't have the vision to see what it could do.
That being said, it is important to note that when you create a work, you own it immediately as the copyright claimant. However, there will inevitably be someone in the shadows waiting to take what was yours upon creation. Also, patents do not work the same way and you must secure a seal showing your invention is yours especially if you plan to take the product to market.
TIPS TO PROTECTING YOUR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
- If it is a document, mail it to yourself and leave it somewhere in a safe place, unopened. If anyone later claimed that the work was theirs, you could take out the unopened document and show the date that you mailed it. If the mailing date preceded the date of publication the claimant claimed to have written the document on, you can defeat his attempt to steal your copyright claims. Note that this technique will probably work more because of the date in question rather than the fact that you have the document in your possession.
- In the case of a written work, try to get your work published in a high profile site. The more that people see your name associated with the work, the less likely someone is to claim it as theirs.
- Technical solutions are also prone to intellectual property rights laws. Anything created for the medical or human service industries that offer a solution to some problem may be patented.
- IP's are prone to protection too. It is important to remember that an IP address can be stolen too. Protecting this very important bit of internet real estate is essential in protecting your business interests today. Once a thief steals this, just like in identity theft, it is hard to take back.
- Guard your reputation. In general, you need to be aware of any attempts to harm your reputation online. Once done, it is hard to undo, and the damage may remain for years to come. Much of this can be accomplished by securing the proper patents, trademarks, and copyrights for the works you are trying to protect.
Innovation is at the soul of progress. But protecting your intellectual property rights is at the heart of innovation. If you do not protect what is yours, there will undoubtedly be someone who will come along and quote Picasso, and you will look up, and another painting will be missing from your virtual wall.