Is Intellectual Property Tangible?

Is Intellectual Property Tangible?

You’ve probably heard of celebrities suing each other over intellectual property rights.

But what exactly is intellectual property and is it tangible?

In this article, I’ll explain the basics of intellectual property law and how it affects the entertainment industry.

Is Intellectual Property TangibleCourtesy: Yang Law Offices
Is Intellectual Property Tangible
Courtesy: Yang Law Offices

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property (IP) is a term that refers to the creations of the mind, such as inventions, artistic works, designs, symbols, names, and images.

IP can be protected by legal rights, such as patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.

IP is different from physical property, such as land, buildings, or goods.

Physical property can be seen, touched, and measured. IP, on the other hand, is intangible and abstract.

However, IP can be expressed or embodied in physical forms, such as books, CDs, DVDs, or software.

Why is IP Important?

IP is important because it encourages innovation and creativity.

By granting legal rights to IP owners, they can benefit from their work and prevent others from copying or exploiting it without permission.

This creates an incentive for people to invest in research and development, artistic expression, and brand identity.

IP is also important for the entertainment industry, which relies heavily on IP to produce and distribute content.

Movies, music, books, games, and shows are all examples of IP that generate revenue and popularity for their creators and owners.

How is IP Protected?

There are different types of IP rights that protect different aspects of IP. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Patents protect inventions that are new, useful, and non-obvious. Patents give the owner the exclusive right to make, use, sell, or import the invention for a limited period of time (usually 20 years). Patents are often used to protect technological innovations, such as gadgets, software, or pharmaceuticals.
  • Trademarks protect words, names, symbols, logos, or designs that identify and distinguish the source of goods or services from others. Trademarks give the owner the exclusive right to use the mark in commerce and prevent others from using confusingly similar marks. Trademarks are often used to protect brand names, slogans, or logos.
  • Copyrights protect original works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyrights give the owner the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, display, perform, or create derivative works based on the original work for a limited period of time (usually the life of the author plus 70 years). Copyrights are often used to protect artistic works, such as books, music, movies, or games.
  • Trade secrets protect confidential information that has economic value and is not known to the public. Trade secrets give the owner the right to prevent others from acquiring, using, or disclosing the information without authorization. Trade secrets are often used to protect business strategies, formulas, or processes.

What are Some Examples of Celebrity Lawsuits Over IP?

Celebrities often get involved in legal disputes over IP rights. Here are some of the most famous cases:

  • Katy Perry vs Flame: In 2019, pop star Katy Perry was sued by Christian rapper Flame for allegedly copying his song Joyful Noise in her hit song Dark Horse. Flame claimed that Perry had infringed his copyright by using a similar beat, melody, and lyrics. Perry denied any wrongdoing and said that she had never heard of Flame’s song before. A jury found Perry guilty and ordered her to pay $2.8 million in damages. However, the verdict was later overturned by a judge who ruled that there was no substantial similarity between the songs.
  • Kim Kardashian vs Missguided: In 2019, reality TV star Kim Kardashian sued online fashion retailer Missguided for using her name and image without her permission to sell knock-off versions of her outfits. Kardashian claimed that Missguided had violated her trademark rights by creating a false association between her and their products. She also claimed that Missguided had harmed her reputation by selling low-quality clothing that copied her style. Missguided did not respond to the lawsuit and Kardashian won by default. She was awarded $2.7 million in damages and an injunction to stop Missguided from using her name and image.
  • Marvel vs DC: In 2019, comic book giants Marvel and DC settled a long-running dispute over the use of the word “superhero”. Both companies had claimed trademark rights to the word and had sued each other over its use by other publishers. The settlement allowed both companies to continue using the word as long as they acknowledged that it was a joint trademark of Marvel and DC. The settlement also prevented other publishers from using the word without permission or in a way that would confuse consumers.


IP is a complex and fascinating topic that affects many aspects of the entertainment industry.

IP rights protect the creations of the mind and allow their owners to benefit from their work.

However, IP rights also create conflicts and challenges that require legal solutions. Celebrities often face IP lawsuits over their work, image, or name.

These lawsuits can have significant consequences for their careers, finances, and reputations.

Therefore, it is important for celebrities and their fans to understand IP law and how it applies to them.

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