5 Things You Didn’t Know about Intellectual Property

Do you have a good understanding of intellectual property, copyright and trademark law? It’s an issue that affects everyone who creates unique work, whether it is art, product ideas, brands or slogans.

It’s important that you know as much as you can about this complex and powerful legal construct. Here are 5 things that you might not have known about intellectual property.


Counterfeit Products Have Increased by 80% over Five Years

According to a study published by the OECD earlier this year, trade in counterfeit and pirated goods has grown from US$250 billion annually to US$461 billion. That means counterfeit products represent more than 2.5 percent of trade in the world. The study also found that counterfeiters are improving their logistical networks, exploiting gaps in global IP law and taking advantage of the growth in online trade.

Our increasingly globalised economy makes it difficult to protect IP rights. Owners of intellectual property have to contend with rapid, digitally-based trade taking place over hundreds of jurisdictions with different laws concerning trademarks, copyright and intellectual property. It is more important than ever before to be well advised and serviced by IP consultants who can navigate the different laws around the world.

Intellectual Property Is Recognised as a Fundamental Human Right

The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises intellectual property as a fundamental right. A number of countries including Australia have signed international treaties that obligate members to cooperate in protecting intellectual property rights.

Piracy Has Reversed Market Growth in Digital Industries

IP industries employ hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Many industries have been severely affected by online piracy, though. US $59billion of software was stolen worldwide in 2010 according to the Business Software Alliance. 95% of music downloaded online over five years was done so illegally, causing a 13% drop in digital growth in the industry and a 30% fall in global sales.

This has resulted in significant job losses. Despite anti-piracy legislation and low-cost services, piracy continues to be a major issue. Organisations operating online rely heavily on IP law firms to monitor, protect and take action against infringements of their intellectual property.

Intellectual Property Registration is Growing

The amount of people registering for intellectual property rights is increasing every year in Australia. Trademark applications rose by 14 percent last year, while design registrations rose by six per cent. More and more people are aware of the important role intellectual property plays in business innovation and the importance of legally protecting them.

Intellectual Property Rights Expire

Intellectual property rights provide you with the exclusive right to control the use of your work. However, the protection afforded eventually expires. Copyright, which automatically protects unique work in a material form, has the longest expiry date but cannot be renewed. Copyright in artistic works lasts 70 years from the date of publication, 50 years for radio and television broadcasts and 25 years for published editions.

Trademarks protect branding and logo design. This includes anything that makes your brand distinctive including letters, numbers, words, phrases, sounds, smells, shapes, pictures and aspects of packaging. Trademark registration can be renewed every 10 years in Australia for a fee. There is no limit to the number of times a trademark registration can be renewed and any person can pay for the renewal.