Copyright and Intellectual Property – Is it worth protecting?

Who would steal your idea, or your article? What are the risks, and costs to protecting your innovation, or creative work?

Shauna McGee Kinney headshot with floral red and pink background By 

Earlier this year, the US Chamber of Commerce linked off to a report about global Intellectual Property (IP). The report compared how different countries’ IP rules were protecting, or failing to protect innovative designs, and creative works.

Original image at:

Measuring Momentum – The GIPC International IP Index ]

While I am on the topic of copyright and liability, I wanted to interject an insight. Defending your patent, or copyright is very costly. Unfortunately, sharing ideas is both a risk and an opportunity. Ultimately, the success of protecting your idea may be dependent on:

  • How quickly you can take the idea to market
  • How effectively you can get the market to identify that idea with your brand
  • How well your company can meet increased demand, add additional innovations to separate the idea from copycats
  • How strong repeat business, referral business, and brand loyalty is
  • How well you manage your cash flow (no, really, the decisions between R&D, production, marketing, etc.)

Yes, I left the legal expenses out of that discussion. How much does it really cost to defend your patent, or copyright?

IP – To Defend, or Not to Defend?

Maybe the summary is, if your idea is worth less than $1,000,000 USD, it’s not worth defending.

Original image at:

How much is that patent lawsuit going to cost you? ]

Copyright versus Patent – What’s the Difference?

A copyright is for artistic, and creative work – like this article. Copyrights cover video, music, images, and “intangible” things.

A patent is for inventions, usually “tangible” things like an electronic device, a novel garment, or a functioning product — like software!

There are exceptions, for example, the shape of a sailboat hull is covered by a copyright, not a patent!

I don’t mention trade marks and service marks here, but you can find the official details at the

US Patent and Trademark Office’s website

Australian Copyright Council’s website

Copyright – What can you do?

skeleton hand holding pocket watch
Image: Shutterstock

Copyrights are the easiest to claim. One of the easiest way to copyright your artistic, or creative work is to use the Creative Commons online tool. After answering a few short questions, you will be able to copy text (or HTML code) that you place into a website, describing how others can use your work. ]

You will notice my Creative Commons “attributes” on the right side of my website. If I felt that a large amount of my work was copied, especially for someone else’s financial gain, I might start the process of filing a complaint. You’ll find the steps for starting your own defines of your work on the Creative Commons website. Laws vary by country, though many countries recognise common copyright laws.

I also have chosen to transfer the ownership and rights to use work I write for a client to the client, even when they haven’t paid their invoice. It’s both a courtesy to the client, and transferring the responsibility of defending the copyright to the company that benefits from the work. In many countries, work-for-hire is owned by the business or person paying for the work, once it’s paid for. See my Copyright Ownership in my Terms and Conditions published on my agency services website. [ Copyright and Ownership ]

Copyright Fair Use – Can You Link to, Copy, or Quote that Work?

Wow, using someone else’s work is complicated. Maybe it’s easier to start by thinking about the moral implications if someone used your work. Here’s some great detail about the new age of linking, copying, embedding, and quoting online work.

What’s Fair About Fair Use? Defending a Copyright Infringement Claim ]

Patent – Now There’s a Whole ‘Nother Barrel of Monkeys

A patent is much more involved. I recommend contacting some of the government business support groups before contacting an IP attorney, if this is your first time looking into a patent. There are many business considerations, cash flow, and business planning implications that need to be considered simultaneously with patenting a product (with the intention of bringing the product to market). Hint: A patent is a public document.

Australia – Enterprise Connect, Business Advisors

USA – Service Corps of Retired Executives, affiliated with the Small Business Administration

Copyrights and Intellectual Property – Is it worth defending?

Broken light bulb and a broken egg

In summary, it’s worth setting up the documentation, and acting in an ethical manner when working with other’s IP. Don’t worry about defending the copyright or IP, just get a system in place, so that you can defend your idea or innovation, if you want to.