In this new advancing age we have seen an increase in the amount of technology around us as a society. These types of advancements have brought an increased awareness in the amount of protection we have in our work. Such as, ensuring that our work is original and will not be stolen or passed around the Internet and not receive the credit we, as originators, should receive. I am the technical communicator and owner of an up and coming apparel company entitled Pharo International. We design and print our own t-shirts and sell throughout the Internet.
Everyday there are new apparel companies showing up around the world and it is my job to ensure the design work of our products are protected and not stolen by other companies around the world. This is to provide protection for legal purposes and assume credit for being the original creators of the product. The context of our work is mainly design work that has been created on Photoshop or Illustrator then placed on t-shirts for selling purposes. We have to make sure that the work we are putting into our products is not unseen and stolen by someone else. This also includes the name of the company itself.
We have to be sure that no one else is using the same name, which means we have to incorporate the name and register it as well for the world to know the name has been taken. Before I explain the types of intellectual property we use at Pharo International, I would first like to breakdown all of the different types of intellectual property that exists, explain their uses, how to protect it, and why this information is relevant for me as both an owner of the company and a technical communicator as well. The first intellectual property I would like to explain is patents.
As stated in the book “Legal Aspects of Managing Technology”, “Patents in the United States provide property rights to creators of innovations that are useful, novel, and nonobvious. ” (Burgunder, 2001, p. 4) However, patents only last for a specific amount of time that is very limited. Once again as stated in “Legal Aspects of Managing Technology” book, “For inventions that are useful, the patent term begins when the application is filed and lasts for 20 years. Patents for ornamental designs last for 14 years, but this period begins only when the patent becomes effective. ” (Burgunder, 2001, p. ) However, under a recent legislative proposal, the patent term for design patents may increase to 15 years instead of 14 years. While the patent is in effect, the inventor has the right to control their developments and designs. They also have the legal control to prevent anyone from producing and selling the products in the United States that incorporate them. This can be seen by the Apple vs. Samsung fiasco, where both Apple and Samsung have design patents and are fighting in court to stop each manufacturer from selling their products to the public, but still no resolution has come.
As stated in the “Legal Aspects of Managing Technology”, “The duration of the patent is intended to strike the appropriate social balance by providing inventors sufficient incentives to undertake the risks of development while returning the inventions as early as possible to the public domain, where free competition can begin. ” (Burgunder, 2001, p. 4) This always for competition to ensue as the quote stated allowing for collaboration to begin and promoting a free market. Finally, during the life of the patent all information is disclosed to the public.
Once again promoting competition and also improving the original patent that will be on the market either immediately on the expiration of protection (patent) or sooner if the inventors approve the improved model of their original invention. For the needs of Pharo International, patents are not the intellectual property we would be using because patents are used for inventions and not design needs. Another intellectual property that for the needs of Pharo International will not be used is trade secret laws. Although trade secret laws will not be used for our company it is important to know what they are used for in case it is needed.
According to the Legal Aspects of Managing Technology book, “Trade secret laws protect valuable information that is not publicly known and that is subject to measures to preserve its secrecy. ” (Burgunder, 2001, p. 6) As an example that was provided in the book “Legal Aspects of Managing Technology” to help explain the idea of trade secrets law more clearly. The example is you would like start a smoothie company and you know that a combination of certain fruits would make a great drink, however do not have the necessary skills to develop a recipe for that combination of fruit.
Thus, you hire a product development staff of experts to create a formula based on the fruit you provided. If you have trade secret laws placed on the product, this prevents one of these experts to take the recipe and start a rival company. Essentially, trade secret laws allow you to control secret information by preventing those entrusted with the information, or if someone were to steal the information from using that stolen information. (Burgunder, 2001) We will now move onto two of the more important intellectual properties, which are copyrights and trademarks.
These intellectual properties that we use for the company to help protect our work. We use trademarks when we first incorporated the company to trademark the name to ensure no one else uses the name and protect is in any legal cases. Then for copyrights we use on all the design work that is produced by the company itself. Essentially the copyright we contain states that any work or art that is created by Pharo International is owned and protected by the company. Anything that is stolen or used by another company without our knowing can be sued and taken to a court.
We will now discuss the two intellectual properties to get a better sense of the two and how they operate. As explained in the “Legal Aspects of Managing Technology” book about copyrights, “Copyrights satisfy similar public goals to those for patents, but they do so for creative expressions rather than useful inventions. ” (Burgunder, 2001, p. 5) The U. S. copyright system was established to help prevent from copying creative expressions. This is to help artists to share their talents to the world. Items include books, sculptures, movies, and paintings will clearly be protected with copyrights.
One concern with copyrights comes with artistic creations such as computer programs and sculpted industrial products. This becomes important because the period of a copyright protection is much longer than a patent. Copyrights will sometimes last over 100 years, where as we discussed above a patent will last only around 20 years. Also, compared to a patent a copyright is much easier to obtain. As stated in the “Legal Aspects of Managing Technology” book: A patent provides protection to a product idea or design, effectively allotting a limited form of monopoly power to the owner.
A copyright, on the other hand, merely protects one expression of an idea and does not extend to the idea itself. Therefore, in theory, the copyright should be less intrusive on competitive markets. (Burgunder, 2001, p. 5) Thus, copyrights provide property-like protection to creative expression to prevent others from interfering with their work. A person may sell their artwork to another person, however they still will claim the rights to the painting and all ownership will belong to them on the copyright issue.
For the work of Pharo International, all of the design work we create is copyrighted to protect our artwork. Although we print all of our designs on t-shirts on sell them online, as compared to artwork sold by a painter, the claims of the copyright still belong to us as the owner. This helps protect our artwork being stolen from any other company and provide everything is original in the sense that we created it without stealing from anyone else. Finally, the last intellectual property we will discuss is trademarks.
As stated in the “Legal Aspects of Managing Technology” book: Trademarks serve somewhat different public goals from those served by patents, copyrights, and trade secrets. The role of trademarks is not to provide creative incentives; rather, trademarks function to increase distributional efficiency by making products easy for consumers to locate without confusion. (Burgunder, 2001, p. 6) A great example was provided in the book to help explain the case for the use of trademarks and why it is important to do so. Suppose you are the owner of a hypothetical detergent company.
You invest heavily in developing a fantastic detergent to ensure it is a top of the line product that people will enjoy using. You package the detergent in a white box, with the name Denton’s on it. After you introduce your product into the market, another detergent company uses a similar packaging with the same name Denton’s on their box as well. However, the product inside is of very poor quality compared to the product you produce. (Name, Year) This will confuse the customer and may reduce confidence in your company. This could have been all stopped by trade marking the name from the beginning to rotect your company name and make sure no other corporation uses the same name. As seen in this hypothetical case about the Denton detergent by not trade marking your name can have negative repercussions and mislead your customer base into believing that you do not always put consistent product out. However, in reality, it is two separate companies. As stated in the book “Legal Aspects of Managing Technology”: Providing legal exclusivity through property protection of identification symbols and product characteristics can solve these problems.
If your company had exclusive rights to use the name Denton’s on the packaging, then the competitors attempts to fool customers would be foiled, for whenever that name appeared on a box, buyers could be sure that it came from you. Your investments in quality and consistency now would pay off because your customers would be constantly satisfied with their purchases. (Burgunder, 2001, p. 7) Thus, by utilizing trademarks you can ensure that your consumers are getting the exact product that you produce and it is not from a rival company or a fake product.
In the case for Pharo International, we trademarked the name both nationally and in the state of Arizona to ensure that no one can reproduce our products or use our name without our permission. A few years ago, we had a t-shirt printing shop use our designs and reproduce our product without our permission, which we then took them to court and won the case and settled a large sum of money for what they had done. In the end, by trade marking the name will help solve various legal issues in the future and guarantee you’re the only company using that name.
In conclusion, as a company, we found that to preserve our work was by using two very important intellectual properties. These two included copyrights and trademarks. In the case of copyrights helped make certain that all the design work and time we placed on our artwork was ours and not stolen from someone else or have someone steal it from us. Then, for trademarks, was to ensure that our name was protected and can not be used by another company or stolen to make sure all the work we put it is not foiled by a rival competitor to ruin our customer base, and the name will be ours for an unlimited amount of time and does not have to be renewed.
For copyrights, can last for over 100 years, but can be renewed after the expiration of the lifetime. Although patents and trade secret laws were not important for our corporation, they are still important intellectual properties. In the end, the various intellectual properties can help ensure that your work is protected and cannot be tampered with or stolen by someone else; however, it does help for collaboration from other people.