(This post was written on March 10, 2015.)
We own what we create. Our creations often come from our intellect and imagination. To encourage us to create and to innovate, we have laws that protect our creations as intellectual property.
We have three main kinds of intellectual property: patents, trademarks, and copyright. Patents protect inventions, which must be new, inventive, and industrial. Trademarks distinguish goods and brands. Copyright protects the author and his works from their creation.
1. Protect your inventions with patents if they will become scientific and technological breakthroughs. The length of patent protection is twenty years. If you can make a big business out of your invention and this will be used for several years, consider getting a patent. Good examples for patent protection are medicines, computers, and cars. The website of the Intellectual Property Office has instructions on how to file patents.
Consider applying for a utility model or an industrial design if your innovation offers only a slight improvement in technology or design. While the length of protection is shorter (7 years and 5 years), the application process is also faster so you can commercialize your innovation faster. Appliances are good for utility models, while furniture and decorations are good for industrial designs.
2. Register your trademark as soon as possible. If you are deciding to create a business and you already have a logo or mark in mind, you might want to inquire and register it as soon as possible. The date of registration of the trademark determines its use. If you are already using a trademark, do not worry. Just register your mark as soon as possible at the Intellectual Property Office.
3. You are protected by copyright from the moment of creation. If you write a novel, compose a song, paint a mural, or do any literary or artistic work, you do not need to register anything. You own the copyright from the time you create your work. In order to sell, assign, or give away your copyright, you need to have written proof that you have assigned your copyright to another person.
For producers of films and plays where there are many creations (film, screenplay, musical score, cinematography, painting, etc.) and creators (director, writer, composer, cinematographer, painter, artist, etc.), you want to have these creators assign the copyrights of their works to you as the producer of the film.