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BE CAREFUL NOT TO BUILD YOUR OWN TROJAN HORSE

By Expert: Terrence Jungel

What is intellectual property? How should you protect it and why? These are questions to have us think about the importance of protecting what is most important to us as law enforcement, detention agencies, and our associations, particularly what is developed to assist those we serve internally. Plagiarism may be the most sincere form of flattery, but in many cases it’s also illegal and sometimes creates a liability for the user.

Not only do you need to know that passing on intellectual material is a bad idea, but if you are not familiar with the author/developer, it may even be in error and create an unintended liability.

Make sure you know and trust the product developer. No one would drink a beverage left on their doorstep if they were unfamiliar with who made it and how it was made. So it should be with products, policies, standards and training developed and given to you that may end up getting you and your agency in trouble.

What we develop in our associations,agencies and affiliated businesses is of value to us and our friends. As we draft NEW policies, procedures, protocols and standards, we often are eager and willing to share them in the interest of building a better profession and protecting our friends. BUT what we need to remember is our friends today may be our competition, or worse, our enemy tomorrow. Do we know who that will be? A little paranoia can protect us and our intellectual properties from those who may not have our best interest at heart. When building trusted friends and allies we must consider the possibility,they may be after our product and knowledge. We then find out we have unintentionally built them a Trojan horse; someone who has come into our camp with the intention of using the information we have provided them against us or others in a future legal dispute.

The purpose of this article is to help you identify what is and what is not, protected properties, and how to best safeguard those same properties. Giving away our secrets and strategies is both careless and often harmful. It never makes good sense to throw bullets to the enemy.

So,what is our intellectual property and how should we protect it? Intellectual property consists of items that you or your business have created that are unique and provide you with a benefit either liability wise or economically. Intellectual property includes inventions, designs, original works of authorship and trade secrets. According to many professionals, how you protect your intellectual property depends on what types of intellectual property you have and how aggressively you pursue violations.

Copyrights

Intellectual property is protected by “Copyrights.” According to legal definition, copyright provides protection for original works of authorship,fixed in a tangible medium of expression including but not limited to, literary, musical, and dramatic works, as well as photographs, audio and visual recordings, software, and other intellectual works. Copyright protection begins as soon as the work is fixed in a tangible medium. The author may begin using the copyright symbol immediately as a method of informing others that he/she intends to exercise control over the production, distribution, display, and or performance of the work. While it is not necessary to file for copyright protection, doing so will make it easier to seek court enforcement of your copyright. You should consult an attorney about the advantages and disadvantages of filing.

Trademarks

A trademark protects the name of your product, logo, company or association by preventing other business from selling or coping a product under the same name. Having a unique and identifiable name or logo for your product is an advantage for your business. Trademark law seeks to protect consumers from confusion or deception by preventing other businesses, persons or groups from using the same or a confusingly similar name for their products. A service mark is used when your business sells a service rather than a product. Being the first to use the name is important to protect the continuing right to use the name, but filing is important for enforcement purposes. The first step in filing for trademark registration is performing a trademark search. This step is extremely important because it could prevent you from investing in the promotion of a product under a trademark that is already in use. An attorney who practices in the area of intellectual property can help you.

Guard you and your agencies from potential intellectual property violations by knowing the authors of the materials and products you use, and make sure to take the steps to protect your own intellectual property from infringement. It doesn’t take much time to file for copyrights and trademarks, and doing so will keep those Trojan horses at bay.

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