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Clearing up IP misunderstandings in California

Intellectual property laws help those who have created proprietary works or who possess trade secrets to solely benefit from them. However, there are many parts of intellectual property law that are misunderstood and several myths propagated about how IP law works. For instance, many believe that the holder of a copyright must pursue action against a party that infringes on that copyright.

The truth is that allowing others to use or modify copyrighted works does not weaken the copyright. If the copyright holder chooses to take enforce the copyright, it must be respected. Unlike a copyright, however, the holder of a trademark must take action to ensure that the trademark is respected. This often leads to smaller companies claiming that they have been unfairly targeted by larger companies over trademark issues.

In the Internet age, it is common for parties to read unflattering content about themselves. Unfortunately for the subject of the rumors or innuendo, filing a Digital Millennium Copyright Act will not work unless a copyright has been violated. Otherwise, people are free to say what they like unless ordered to take the content down through different channels. Finally, it is important to know that a copyright holder automatically holds a copyright as soon as a work is created. There is no longer a need to inform a reader or someone watching a movie that the material is copyrighted.

Those who hold a copyright or a trademark may wish to consult with an attorney prior to taking action against an infringing party. An attorney may be able to determine if any infringement has occurred and what recourse may be available. In some cases, it may be worthwhile to settle out of court or to defer action to a later date if intellectual property is being used responsibly.

Source:, "10 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Intellectual Property Law", Lauren Davis, Jan. 12, 2015

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