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How are intellectual property rights protected by law?

Intellectual property rights protect a person's ideas and work so that others can't take the ideas and make money on them; doing so would be illegal. To prevent others from accessing and using this work, it's important to maintain properly register your intellectual property with patents, trademarks and copyrights, and also use the proper contracts and licenses to profit from that property. 

Promoting and protecting intellectual property rights is important because it helps the creator know he or she can rely on the items he or she has created for his or her own use. For example, a patent makes sure no one else can use or take an invention for personal gain unless the inventor signs off on it. If someone did take it and sell it as his or her own, it could make it impossible for the inventor to earn a living. A patent gives the inventor the sole right to sell his or her product for use.

Because it's possible to protect the rights of those who create, it spurs further creation. Would a person work hard on a new invention if he or she knew someone else would copy it and steal the idea? Probably not. However, because intellectual property rights are protected by law, he or she can be sure that his or her items and ideas will stay protected. This way, the inventor can use them for whatever purpose was intended without the fear of having that work stolen.

Copyright protection and patents can help keep private works safe. An attorney can help any creator prepare the paperwork needed to register the intellectual property as his or her own, so he or she doesn't have to worry about others taking the idea or expression of that idea.

Source: World Intellectual Property Organization, "What is Intellectual Property," accessed Dec. 22, 2015

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