Intellectual Property FAQ

1. Q. What is intellectual property law, exactly?

A. Intellectual property law is the law that protects an individual's intellectual property, such as original ideas, books, written items, inventions or other information. It also governs legal action taken against one who violates intellectual property law.

2. Q. Are my original ideas and written works protected if they are on the internet?

A. Yes, they are protected to a certain extent. If you want to ensure that they are safe, you should file for copyright and post that copyright notice along with those works. However, your intellectual property is still protected – even if you do not actually file for a copyright.

3. Q. What should I do if someone steals my intellectual property?

A. You may have a case against that person depending upon the situation. The first thing you should do is talk to a knowledgeable intellectual property law attorney and determine which route would best suit your needs and desires.

4. Q. Where do parodies fall under the intellectual property laws?

A. Typically, parodies are considered non-infringing. Although it's obvious that you must borrow certain elements from an original thing in order to create a parody, it is most often considered fair use.

5. Q. When discussing a project or idea with someone, how can I be sure they will not take the ideas?

A. One way in which you can be sure that someone will not steal your original ideas is to have them sign a non-disclosure agreement. This will state that they have no intention of using your ideas or sharing the knowledge of those ideas with others – and helps protect you.

6. Q. Is the information found on a website copyrighted?

A. While this is typically a complicated topic, the best thing you can do is assume they are. Things that appear on someone's website are typically protected by some form of a copyright law and by using or republishing those things, you could face litigation.

7. Q. Should I hire an intellectual property law attorney?

A. If you feel that your ideas or original work has been stolen or you truly want to protect it – you should most likely hire an attorney who is knowledgeable in intellectual property law. The laws on this topic are very complex and an attorney can advise you as to the proper avenues to take in order to protect or seek compensation.

8. Q. Is it alright to republish or use ‘creative commons' works or ideas?

A. The purpose of licensing something as ‘creative commons' is so that others can use it freely. For instance, if you find a picture somewhere that is under a creative commons license and you want to use this picture to create a presentation, it's alright to do so.

9. Q. Can I allow others to use my intellectual property?

A. Yes, you can. By licensing it as ‘creative commons,' you can allow others to use your intellectual property and in some instances, you can determine how that intellectual property may be used and how it may not be used.

10. Q. What happens if two individuals have the same or nearly the same type of written work or idea? Who is considered the owner of that intellectual property?

A. If the case goes to court, most likely the individual who can prove the earliest ownership of that idea or work will be considered the legal owner of that intellectual property.

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