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Intellectual property issues in architectural design

by | Jun 21, 2021 | Blog, Business, Real Estate |

What is Intellectual Property (IP)? Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind, including patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. Although your business may be physical property, IP issues most likely play a role in your fundamental business operations.

Trademark protection is not limited to only a business name. The name or nickname of a development may be protected by a trademark registration for related services. Examples of this may include Trump Tower or the Eiffel Tower. If you are considering trademark protection, the trademark should have a strong mark and clearance. A high mark makes your trademark distinct: the more distinguishable it is, the stronger and broader the initial protection. Trademark clearance assesses whether the trademark is similar and potentially conflicts with earlier trademarks.

The copyright of the various features of buildings may be an issue for the property developer, owner, and investors. The copyright for the building plans arises automatically with the architect and generally lasts for the life of the architect plus 70 years. In certain cases, the architect may choose for the trademark to be specifically assigned to an owner or employee through a written agreement. The ownership of the trademark should be taken into consideration in real estate property transactions.

Copyright infringement is commonly seen in the architecture industry. Design drawings are likely to contain copyrighted information. Agreements regarding the use of these drawings should include limitations. In cases of a lack of a written agreement, the creator of the content may still be protected from liability. It becomes crucial for architecture design agreements to acknowledge the ownership of the copyrighted material and intellectual property.

Trade secret protection for commercially sensitive or confidential information may be needed. Commercially sensitive information such as trade secrets may be protected with confidentiality agreements or non-disclosures. Confidential information may include client lists, pricing policies, or any competitively restricted knowledge. Former employees may misappropriate trade secrets, requiring emergency injunctive relief to avoid irreparable harm. As the importance of trade secrets has increased, it is of utmost importance for companies to protect their information assets against internal and external threats.

If you feel that you have potential rights regarding your intellectual property or any questions regarding copyrights, trademarks, or trade secrets, please contact us for an experienced attorney. Our number is 713-572-4900.

 

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