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The basics of intellectual property

The concept of intellectual property has risen to prominence in recent years, in part due to advances in technology. Georgia State heavily values the intellectual property community, as evidenced by its recent announcement of a collaboration between Georgia State University College of Law and the Georgia Intellectual Property Alliance.

Despite its prevalence, many people still do not understand the full ramifications of this type of law. This field supports numerous industries, and it is critical for any entrepreneur or innovator to know the basics of intellectual property. 

What is intellectual property law?

This law exists to enforces ownership rights over ideas. The law goes further and specifies these ideas as "creations of the mind." This covers a range of expressions, including literature, music and industrial design. Intellectual property often extends to business-related symbols, such as the golden arches at McDonald's. After all, there is a reason you do not see other businesses with those exact same arches. The government bestows upon the creator the authority to use the image or concept exclusively. 

How does this law work?

There are three primary branches that cover intellectual property. They are trademark, copyright and patent. Trademarks are signs that clearly indicate the presence of a recognizable business or person. The government grants copyrights for primarily artistic works. They allow the originator of the piece to use the creation however he or she sees fit. Patents are protections for inventions. Anyone who creates something that has never existed in that form before will hold exclusive rights to its use and any profits that arise from it. 

Why does this law exist?

The idea behind all of these laws is that if anyone can utilize an idea, then that idea inherently loses its value. Therefore, if a new idea has no value, then there is no incentive for people to continue to look for new ideas. 

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