The Constitution gives Congress the responsibility of governing intellectual property law. Unfortunately, the Constitution was drafted long before the idea of a computer program was even remotely conceivable. As a result, understanding how intellectual property law protects the creation and marketing of computer programs can be challenging.
Understanding the Basics of Intellectual Property Law
"Intellectual property" is an area of law that gives people certain rights and legal protections for their inventions and creations. Intellectual property law consists of three predominate areas: trademark, copyright, and patent. These three areas protect specific creations and do not provide interchangeable protections.
For an invention to be eligible for patent protection, it must serve a useful purpose, be unique, and not obvious. Computer programs are eligible for patent protection if they meet this criteria.
When it comes to marketing the computer software, trademark law becomes very important. The name of the computer program and any logos or slogans used are eligible for trademark protection.
Copyright protection gets even more complicated when the final creation is a video game. The characters portrayed in a video or computer game are protected under copyright law as long as the characters are eligible for copyright protection beyond the game play. This is a confusing concept at first, but at the core of copyright protection is the requirement that the work is "fixed in a tangible medium of expression"; in other words, use of a character in a video game alone is potentially unprotected because game play is not "fixed." Furthermore, the protection that encompasses the written computer program code behind the character does not extend beyond the code to the visual manifestation of the character. The character is protected, however, if prototypes are sketched beforehand, or the character is taken from a movie character.
If you have more questions about whether or not your current computer project should be protected under law, contact a local attorney from a firm like Lingbeck Law Office.Share
9 December 2014
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