Intellectual Property Basics

by Jan 12, 2014

These comparisons to board games might help you understand patents, trademarks and copyright – the main forms of intellectual property. Imagine a game rule that says, you can make up a new rule. If the banker allows the rule, you get exclusive use it for 20 turns. If others like it, they must pay you to use it during those turns. That’s roughly like a patent; patents protect new and useful ideas for a time, so inventors have a chance to profit. Trademarks are about names and designs that identify & distinguish things. Picture a game where only one player gets to use the label ‘HotelsIncluded’ to describe the properties they sell – which always have a hotel. Other players could sell property with hotels, but can’t use ‘HotelsIncluded’ to describe them. That’s the basic idea of trademarks. Finally, picture a game that includes blank cards. Anything a player writes or draws on a card becomes theirs to own, sell or trade. Since their original ideas are fixed & written down, their ownership rights are protected. That’s a loose analogy for copyright – creators of original works that are fixed & tangible have legal rights to those works.