Copyrights provide exclusive rights to the creators of original artistic works such as books, movies, songs, and screenplays. Sometimes copyrights are sold and licensed. The late pop star Michael Jackson bought the rights to The Beatle’s music catalog and later licensed songs to Target and other companies for use in television advertisements.
Trade secrets refer to formulas, practices, and designs that are central to a firm’s business and that remain unknown to competitors. One famous example is the blend of eleven herbs and spices used in Kentucky Fried Chicken’s original recipe chicken. KFC protects this secret by having multiple suppliers each produce a portion of the herb and spice blend; no one supplier knows the full recipe.
Table 4.6 Patents Patents protect inventions from direct imitation for a limited period of time. Some examples and key issues
surrounding patents are illustrated below.
To earn a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, an inventor must demonstrate than an invention is new, non obvious, and useful.
As several different inventors raced to create a workable system for voice transmission over wires, Alexander Graham Bell was awarded a patent for the telephone in 1876.
Perhaps the greatest inventor in history was Thomas Edison, who was awarded over one thousand patents.
In a 2011 lawsuit, EBSCO alleged that Bass Pro Shops sold a product that violated EBSCO’s patent on a deer-hunting stand that helps prevent hunters from falling out of trees. EBSCO’s complaint was settled out of court.
Patents are legal decrees that protect inventions from direct imitation for a limited period of time (Table 4.6 “Patents”). Obtaining a patent involves navigating a challenging process. To earn a patent from the US Patent and Trademark Office, an inventor must demonstrate than an invention is new, nonobvious, and useful. If the owner of a patent believes that a company or person has infringed on the patent, the owner can sue for damages. In 2011, for example, a private company named EBSCO alleged that retailer Bass Pro Shops sold a product that violated EBSCO’s patent on a deer-hunting stand that helps prevent hunters from falling out of trees. Rather than endure a costly legal fight, the two sides agreed to settle EBSCO’s complaint out of court.