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Intellectual property (IP) refers to the legal rights granted to creative works that are intangible in nature.

For example a painter owns the right to the images in his paintings, an engineer owns the rights to a new invention, and a designer to the design he has created. Commonly, businesses create unique names and logos which falls under IP, as well.

With IP rights, an owner/creator has authority on this property, license or share with others and exclude others from using it. How IP is managed may be an important business model decision, influencing the return on investment for the owner/creator.

Example:

A designer can create a unique chair design and agree with a manufacturer to receive compensation (money) for each chair sold. He could also sell the ownership of the rights to the design to a manufacturer for one lump sum.

Usually the creator seeks direct compensation for his work but there are ways to build businesses with a more indirect return on investment.

Example:

In the information technology industry, some programmers sell licenses to use the applications and games they create. Others contribute time and effort to programmes that are distributed for free (such as the open source Linux operating system) in order to make money indirectly on services or advertising.

In both these examples, the creator has the right to decide how to distribute and license his work. Likewise, all companies need to be aware of the IP rights of others, and obtain permission to use IP that others have created.

There is no single path for managing IP, each company can make different business model choices.

More information:

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Boost Your Idea – JA Denmark’s support site for Intellectual property

Art University Copyright Advice (Aalto)

When to consider IP in a JA company?

When setting up a start-up company, you need to assess if your ideas (products, designs, images, names, logos) are unique and whether you can claim ownership rights and protection to preserve their value and to prevent copying/reproducing undercutting your business.

Most ideas are not be protected by IP rights, because similar ideas/innovation and products already exist in the market. Depending on the level of time and investment it takes to create product or service, it can also be a smart move to develop and market ideas faster than your competition, rather than to spend time on protecting the idea from possible competition.

Most likely you need to consider IP rights, if you create something unique that would be easy to copy and reproduce AND there are people willing to do it.

Sometimes you could lose IP rights, if you do not take basic measures to protect them.

You, also, need to guard against any improper use of the IP that belongs to others – even unintentional or inadvertent infringement of IP can be costly to your business.

More Information:

Goals

  • Know where to find more information if needed;
  • Understand the different types of Intellectual property;
  • Understand the importance of trade secrets.

Check-list

  • Agree if the idea needs IP protection
  • Contact the right body to move the protection forward