In the last week, there have been many stories in the news that underscore the value and importance of intellectual property to all types of business – to software companies, movie studios, publishers and authors, and more.

Trademarks, copyrights, patents, and trade secrets are frequently the most valuable assets owned by businesses. Without the rights to the code, the text, the inventions, or the movies, what would make Google, eBay, or Microsoft or Harry Potter or HarperCollins valuable?

Here are some real world examples of why intellectual property is fundamental to the success – and profits – of so many businesses:

  • Zynga Settles Trade Secrets Lawsuit with Disney’s Playdom – Wall Street Journal
    • “Zynga complained in the lawsuit that the employees took its “playbook,” a manual for developing successful and distinctive social games. In another allegation, Zynga claimed a former employee copied hundreds of files related to an unreleased Zynga game and took them with her when she joined Playdom.”
  • Colleges Tell High Schools Logos Are Off Limits – New York Times
    • “Universities steadfastly protect their trademarked logos, which appear on everything from oven mitts to underwear, and their reach is increasingly stretching toward high schools. If a school’s logo can be confused with a university’s, or if it is capable of diluting its value, the universities often demand changes.”

  • U.S. Agency Seizes Sites Suspected of Piracy, Counterfeiting – Wall Street Journal
  • and Sarah Palin book publisher settle dispute – Reuters
  • Jury Rules SAP Owes Oracle $1.3 Billion – Wall Street Journal
    • SAP AG must pay $1.3 billion to rival Oracle Corp. for copyright infringement, a federal jury ruled Tuesday, following a high-profile court battle between the business-software makers…. If upheld, the verdict would stand among the largest awards for a case involving intellectual property.”
  • Trader Convicted of Code Theft – Wall Street Journal
    • “Federal prosecutors had alleged that Samarth Agrawal secretly printed out copies of the bank’s computer code last year and planned to use it to build a copy of SocGen’s trading program at a competitor.”
  • And in a story you could not make up… two restaurants with names suggestive of scantily clad waitresses in a ski lodge environ (and both with names taken from television shows!) are going to court:
  • Businessman Sued Over Eatery Idea – NWA Online
    • A restaurant known for its scantily clad waitresses and boasts that it’s a place for eats, drinks and scenic views has filed a federal lawsuit against an Arkansas-based company in the process of opening a similar restaurant in Fayetteville, Ark. Twin Restaurant which operates the Twin Peaks restaurant in Texas, claims Grand Tetons LLC infringed on its trademark, logo and the way its employees dress.”

Is your intellectual property protected properly? If not, the core value of your business may be at risk.

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