Contractors in the construction industry spend years developing strategies to help expedite construction and maximize profits, so it’s unlawful for another contractor to attempt to copy these ideas. Similarly, an architect’s design plans are an original creation that shouldn’t be reproduced without the consent of the owner. Both of these examples are potential cases for intellectual property theft.
If you believe that your intellectual property is at risk, consult the Jacksonville construction lawyers at Cotney Construction Law to learn about your protections under U.S. Copyright Law and other laws related to intellectual property.
In part one of this three-part series, we defined the term “intellectual property” and explained why the laws protecting intellectual property are so important. Now, we will discuss the difference between copyrights and trademarks before discussing patents and other forms of intellectual property in part three.
According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), “A copyright protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture.”
In the construction industry, architectural copyrights are protected as long as the design has been produced in a tangible medium. Some examples of protected architectural designs include:
- Architectural Works
- BIM Models
- Constructed Buildings
- Technical Design Documents
Any copyrighted design created by an individual is valid for the duration of the owner’s life, plus 70 years. Anonymous works and works created by a person under hire last 95 years from the date the copyright is published, or alternatively, 120 years from the date it was created (the shorter of the two).
Trademarks are words, phrases, symbols, and designs that help people identify a brand or differentiate it from a competitor. For example, the term “Big Mac” is a trademark of McDonald’s (although it recently lost this trademark in the European Union). Google, Rolex, and Kodak are also trademarks as they are tied to products. In the construction industry, brands like Caterpillar and Skanska are trademarks. The duration of a trademark is 10 years, but can be renewed as long as it is being used.
Contractors must protect their trademarks to ensure that other firms aren’t passing off their products and services as those of a more reputable company. To do so, it’s always best to consult one of our Jacksonville construction attorneys to register the trademark with the USPTO. Some of the advantages include a publicly acknowledged claim of ownership of the trademark, nationwide support for legal ownership, and exclusivity rights for the use of the trademark in connection with any related products or services.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.