Many of us have been warned against committing plagiarism. However, stealing someone's intellectual property is more than just copy-and-pasting information that you later claim as your own. The extent of intellectual property protected by law is probably greater than you ever imagined. To help prevent your property from being stolen or to keep yourself from accidentally using someone else's protected information, here are a few things you should know.
First, let's look at the development of the laws regarding this type of property. In 1967, the member states of the United Nations created the World Intellectual Property Organization, or WIPO, that promotes the balance of rewards for creativity with the rights of the public to particular sources of information. The benefit of having an international organization to protect and promote intellectual property, or IP, is that all of the UN member states can extend these rights to their populace, and they will be respected by people from other UN member states.
There is a long list of items that are protected under WIPO. Basically, IP are the fruits of your mind's creativity, including: pictures, symbols, names, literary or artistic works, inventions, and designs. WIPO divides IP into two types, industrial and copyright, to better serve the ideas. According to WIPO, industrial IP has inventions/patents, trademarks, industrial designs, and geographic renderings of source materials; copyright IP consists of any literary or artistic work, including: novels, short stories, plays, poems, music and songs, photographs, sculptures, drawings, and architectural plans.
With all of these things that can be purposefully or accidentally stolen, it is important to know what you can do to help protect intellectual property, whether your own or that of others. Many universities are now requiring students to sign and acknowledge a form describing plagiarism, or taking someone else's ideas or words and promoting them as your own. They must agree to not commit plagiarism; if they do, they face disciplinary action from the university, and possible legal action from the owner of the IP.
One way we can fight back against stealing IP is to correctly cite your sources. For written projects, Powerpoint presentations, etc., you should give your sources by way of a universally acknowledged method. These include Modern Language Association (MLA) format, American Psychological Association (APA) format, Chicago, and Turabian documentation. Basically, if in doubt, give credit to your sources.
If you are a holder of IP, you can help protect your rights by filing for trademarks, copyrights, patents, etc. However, it is easy for people to disregard these rights and take your IP without acknowledging you. If you feel that you have been a victim of IP theft, you should contact a lawyer to find out how you can hold the thief legally responsible. To find a lawyer specializing in intellectual property in your area, check out the attorney directory today.