This is the area of law that deals with and oversees the creation of intellectual property patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secret laws; the protection of intellectual property rights; and the legal pursuit of those who infringe on another’s rights to his/her intellectual property. It overlaps with several other areas of law, such as patent law, copyright law,contract law, tort law, trademark law and litigation.
Both statute and common law play a part in IP law. Trade secrets are established through common law and to protect them, one must utilize the legal options provided by contract law and tort law. Statute creates and governs trademarks, patents and copyrights, which represents ownership of an original idea for a limited period of time. Such artistic and creative works as paintings, music, books, photographs, movies and software may be protected by copyright law. Trade secrets, patents and trademarks laws are most often utilized by businesses because of the commercial value of the protected property.
Copyrights and patents are governed exclusively by the U.S. Constitution and Congressional legislature, while both federal and state laws deal with trademarks and some aspects of unfair competition disputes. IP law is a continuously evolving, extraordinarily complex area. Even though Patent law is a very complicated and specialized field in itself, many attorneys who have received the necessary extra education in patent law, have gone a step further and also distinguish themselves as specialists in the area of IP law.
Federal and international treaty laws govern most of the areas of International IP law. They do not oversee trade secrets. With today’s global use of the worldwide web, comes the unfortunate ease of appropriating other people’s creative product, works and ideas. To deal with this new threat, IP rights and laws must be addressed at an international level and cooperation between countries is necessary to protect these rights and govern this area.