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Considering IP and copyright

Learn more about IP and copyright.

We’ve discussed the importance of creativity and its role within innovation; now it’s time for the serious stuff – intellectual property (IP) and copyright.

As you have gathered by now, when you’re in a comfortable space to throw ideas around and innovate, it can result in an ingenious solution or a fresh idea. These need to be protected. While this may be obvious, you do not want to be on the opposite end of the spectrum, unknowingly stealing intellectual property. While this is often an honest mistake, it can result in being a costly one.

Let’s start defining these terms:

  • Intellectual property: This refers to the expression of an idea and the protection thereof.
  • Copyright: This refers to the specific law protecting the expression of ideas in visual or audio form.

Intellectual property and copyright is not always a top priority when running a business, creating a product, or finding a creative solution. However, these things need to be taken seriously as the violation of IP and copyright could result in fines, criminal charges, and even jail time.

Avoiding IP infringements

The first step towards avoiding any IP infringements is to know exactly what type of IP exists. Let’s take a look at the four main ones:

  1. Copyright: This refers to the rights to original artwork. This includes forms such as text, music, and videos.
  2. Trademark: These protect any element linked to brandings, such as phrases, names, and symbols.
  3. Patent: This protects any inventions and the predetermined amount of time following its creation. This can be used to design patents and plant patents.
  4. Trade secret: This protects the information of a proprietary nature, such as programs, and formulas.

When you familiarise yourself with these types of IPs and when they may apply, you’ll be in a better position to avoid any infringements. It will help you recognise protected material before it’s too late. These can, however, only be used when given explicit permission from the owner (in some cases, institution).

Let’s look at two examples of IP infringements, using organisations we all recognise.

1. Cadbury

In 2019, Cadbury lost its long-running legal battle to trademark the colour purple they use. In 2012, Mondelez, the parent company, trademarked the particular shade of purple, banning another chocolate manufacturer from using the same shade. They even tried to get the trademark extended to cover even a small visible sign of the shade as part of a competitor’s wrapper! Nestle challenged this trademark, and the issue was tied up in legal battles for years, ending when Mondelez decided to give up its trademark for the purple shade in 2019.

2. Toyota and Jetstar

Jetstar and Toyota are embroiled in legal proceedings after the budget airline contested Toyota’s plan to trademark its ‘Oh, What a Feeling!’ ‘jump’. Toyota has used actors jumping in the air at the end of its advertisements since the mid-1980s, while Jetstar has used actors doing a star jump since it was launched in 2004.

Read more about this trademark battle in the article, ‘Oh what a feeling!’ – Toyota and Jetstar battle it out over ‘jump’ trademarks [1]

References

  1. Wiliams, M. ‘Oh what a feeling!’ – Toyota and JetStar battle it out over ‘jump’ trademarks [Article]. Mondaq; 2013 Nov 20. Available from: https://www.mondaq.com/australia/trademark/275730/oh-what-a-feeling-toyota-and-jetstar-battle-it-out-over-jump-trade-marks
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