16 Jul Intellectual Property in the Digital Age
In the latter half of the twentieth century, the digital revolution led to the proliferation of computers and other digital technology in homes and workplaces. Public and private sector organisations increasingly replaced their paper records with digital versions, enabling information to be stored and accessed more easily and efficiently. Digital information soon became essential to business and society.
The digital revolution paved the way for the digital age, which has transformed the way people around the world live and work. The widespread adoption of computers, laptops, mobiles, smartphones and tablets, coupled with readily available internet access, has dramatically increased the speed at which information is shared.
In addition, information is distributed in many new ways (for example, via email and social media). The digital age has made communication simpler than ever before. However, the ease with which everything from documents to dance music can now be disseminated makes protecting intellectual property (IP) hugely challenging.
How can you prevent your business’s IP being compromised or disappearing into the ether?
The Nature of Intellectual Property
The digital age is challenging traditional ideas about ownership and distribution of information, which makes understanding what intellectual property is – and what it is not – more important than ever before for organisations.
Intellectual property refers to things you create. A business’s intellectual property could encompass its inventions and discoveries, as well as words and logos used to represent the firm and its products. That is by no means an exhaustive list – IP is a broad area.
A common misconception is that intellectual property also encompasses ideas. The reality is that, in the eyes of the law, an idea alone does not constitute IP.
Legal Protection against Theft and Copying
A business’s intellectual property is crucial to its operations and ability to compete with rivals, and so protecting it is essential. If the business’s IP is copied or stolen, the firm could be deprived of the financial benefits, acclaim and recognition associated with the things it has created. The fact that its IP has been compromised could threaten the business’s survival.
Fortunately, various kinds of legal protection are available to UK intellectual property owners, helping them to avoid that nightmare scenario.
- Copyright (protects text, sound, images, etc.)
- Design right (protects the shapes of objects)
- Patents (protects products and inventions)
- Trademarks (protects names, logos, etc.)
- Registered designs (protects products’ appearances, including packaging)
The first two kinds of protection are automatic; the others can be requested from the Intellectual Property Office, the government body responsible for IP rights.
Modernising IP Law for the Digital Age
The digital age has changed the world of work, and so IP law has changed too. The Intellectual Property Act 2014 has modernised the UK’s IP law, in the light of the opportunities and challenges experienced by businesses in the digital age. For example, the Act has made the intentional copying of registered designs a criminal offence and permits the marking of patented products with a website address.
Protecting intellectual property is undoubtedly a more complicated task in the digital age than it was previously. New technology provides new opportunities for unscrupulous individuals to copy, imitate, alter or distribute intellectual property via many different channels. As a result, it is crucial for businesses to keep up-to-speed with the latest technological developments – and any risks those developments may pose to their IP.
However, the finer points of intellectual property law differ between countries, and so IP protection can be difficult to achieve on a global scale.
Protect Your Business’s Important Data
While it is reassuring to know that legal protection is available for intellectual property, there is a great deal that businesses themselves can do, on a day-to-day basis, to safeguard their IP and related information (such as confidential data). For instance, access to sensitive details can be restricted to a small group of authorised users and encryption tools can prevent trade secrets being exposed.
The importance of your company’s information security cannot be underestimated. A confidential memo that finds its way into the wrong hands, for example, can spell disaster for an organisation. Thankfully, you can rely on Tricostar to help you implement an information security management system that is tailored to your business. We can also help you to ensure that sharing files and documents via email is secure, thanks to the Cryptshare solution.
For more information about how Tricostar can help you to keep your business’s data secure, please call 0208 292 2660 or contact us online.