IP in Advertising Industry

Without any second thoughts, advertising is as old as human civilization and commerce. In the present highly competitive environment, business owners and digital marketers attract their target audience with the help of brochures, TV and radio communications, email campaigns, banners, pop-ups, billboards, rich media advertisements, amongst many other advertising tools. Advertising has now become a medium for passing relevant, engaging, and unique information to potential customers and influencing their buying decisions positively. Moreover, a host of digital advertising techniques has created a lot of new opportunities for business firms and organizations to enhance their brand awareness and online visibility. In the creative process of advertising, Intellectual Property (IP) plays a crucial role, due to which, the business owners need to protect their exclusive Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) at all times.

Intellectual Property Rights Involved in Advertising

While creating content for an advertisement or deploying an advertising campaign, there are usually one or more types of IP Rights that come into action, which are as follows:

  1. A copyright can protect creative content, which can be in the form of photographs, written content, graphics, visual art, audios, videos, the entire layout of an advertisement, or website design.
  2. A trademark can protect advertising slogans, sounds, logos, business names, product names, or any other signs used in advertising.
  3. Industrial Design Protection extends to graphic symbols, graphic user interfaces (GUIs), screen displays, and even web pages at times.
  4. Patent Protection extends to a few forms of advertising techniques or means of doing business.
  5. A trademark or industrial design can protect the shape of a container or a bottle (commonly referred to as trade dress in some countries).
  6. Depending on the national laws, a patent or copyright can protect the software used to create online advertising campaigns.

It is imperative to make a point of the fact that unfair competition laws strictly prohibit unfair advertising methods, including the fake endorsement of brands, false advertising claims, fraudulent marketing or promotions, and deceptive packaging.

Companies nowadays are looking forward to finding better ways of advertising their brands. With every level of increased sophistication, there will be additional IP Rights involved. The most basic advertising campaign may only include a trademark or copyright corresponding to its logo; however, advanced audio-visual works lead to several complex IP issues.

Strategies for Intellectual Property Protection

It is a matter of fact that yes – creating and coming up with a successful advertising campaign requires a critical investment of time, money, and effort. Competitors and arch-rivals are likely to enjoy a free ride on an innovative company’s creativity, skills, and expertise. Therefore, all the business firms need to device appropriate IP strategies and use the legal tools at their disposal in the IP system for protecting their unique advertising creations.

  1. Register the advertising campaign or any other copyright-protected material (which it may include) with the national copyright office (depending on the country-specific laws). Furthermore, there is a need to make the public aware that your advertising material is protected legally under the Copyright Law.
  2. Typically, a trademark protects symbols, logos, and words. However, presently, Trademark Protection also extends to new and creative marks, including sounds, holograms, and animated images marks, which you must take into consideration, especially in today’s digital age.
  3. It is of utmost importance to use a trademark adequately and consistently in an advertising campaign. All you require to do is use the trademark in its specific color, font, size, and other attributes for enhancing its value and distinctiveness over time. Ensure marking all the trademarks with a trademark notice or equivalent symbols.
  4. Going ahead with filing a Patent Application for creative advertising technologies and online business processes in nations where the same is applicable is always considered as a great option.
  5. Any private and confidential information, which may offer a competitive advantage to your business, such as consumer profiles, sales methods, manufacturing processes, list of suppliers, marketing plans, or a brilliant idea for an advertising campaign, can be well-protected using laws on unfair competition or a trade secret.
  6. If a brand or a business wants to obtain a patent on its new invention, then it must never disclose the innovative qualities of the product (unless the nation’s Patent Law offers a grace period) in its advertising campaign (before getting the patent grant certificate) to keep the invention unique and novel in all aspects.

Final Thoughts

The advertising industry revolves around creativity and innovation. With a plethora of technological advancements, the Internet today has facilitated the spread of brand new advertising methods. While being a powerful medium of influence, the advertising industry carries a potential for abuse and misuse as well. Therefore, every business owner must put in sincere efforts to understand the legal IP framework surrounding the advertising industry. A lack of caution can result in a company facing loss in its IP Rights or the liability of infringing upon the IP Rights on another person. Considering rigorous checks from the general legal and IP perspective before coming up with an advertising campaign can do wonders for every business and avoid costly mistakes.