True or False: Test Your Copyright and Patent Laws IQ

copyright and patent lawsWhen most Americans think of patents, they imagine an inventor tinkering in his basement, like Alexander Graham Bell building the first telephone or Thomas Edison inventing the lightbulb. But as intellectual property rights lawyers and patent litigation attorneys will tell you, it’s a little more complicated. Intellectual property and patents can apply to virtually any “creation of the mind,” from works of art to complex computer software.

The United States has always been a nation of inventors, from Benjamin Franklin flying his legendary kite to Steve Jobs in Silicon Valley. The list of amazing creations invented by Americans could fill an encyclopedia, and some of the most respected Americans are known for their intellectual property, like George Washington Carver, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Walt Disney.

Despite this, many business owners and entrepreneurs don’t know enough about copyright and patent laws. If you’re a business owner, it’s crucial that you know what kind of IP you have a right to protect, because understanding copyright and patent laws can be crucial to success. So test your knowledge with these basic misconceptions and facts about copyright laws and patents.

Claim: Intellectual property stifles growth and innovation.
Completely false. In fact, protected IP accounts for more than half of U.S. exports and contributes to 40% of all economic growth.

Claim: Copyright infringement is increasing.
Unfortunately, this is a fact of life in 2015. The Internet (another American invention) has made it easier than ever to infringe on copyrighted material. An astonishing 25% of all online traffic is dedicated to the consumption of infringed content! Plus, IP theft has been surging so far this decade. According to the U.S. International Trade Commission, investigations into IP theft rose by 80.6% in 2010 alone.

Claim: Hackers are the biggest threat to IP
False. In fact, “trusted business partners” were blamed for 17% of IP violations, while former employees accounted for an additional 21%. Although many industries can be vulnerable, insider IP theft occurs most commonly in Information Technology (35% of cases) and finance (13% of cases).

Claim: Copyright infringement primarily affects large corporations.
False, again. Worldwide, about 9% of all products bought and sold violate American IP rights in some way. And while many of those violations affect companies like Apple or Nike, they also affect many entrepreneurs. For instance, independent movie studios are often hit the hardest by online piracy, because they have much smaller profit margins and legal resources.

If you live and work in the United States, you have a right to protect your intellectual property. At the same time, you have to ensure that your business doesn’t infringe on someone else’s protected material. That’s why so many businesses employ patent attorneys to help walk them through copyright and patent laws.