ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition — November 2002

In this issue...
Case Study and Commentary: Supply Chain Redesign
Sharing Information in Customer-Supplier Relationships
Our Readers Say...
Protecting Your Trade Secrets
Chapter News
Your Opinion: Books in Review
Features...
Book Nook
Editorial: From Our Perspective
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Protecting Your Company’s Intellectual Property: A Practical Guide to Trademarks, Copyrights, Patents & Trade Secrets
by Deborah E. Bouchoux
AMACOM, 2001.
ISBN: 0-8144-0601-7.
Hardcover, 262 pages. Price: $29.95

Overall Rating: * * * * * Pick It Up Today

Do you know the differences between the four types of intellectual property? Do you understand the procedure for obtaining copyright protection and what actions are violations of a copyright belonging to someone else? Should you retain a lawyer to explore the possibility of patenting your company’s latest invention?

If you are not sure about the answers to these questions, this month’s book is for you. Written by an attorney specializing in intellectual property, this is a highly readable and exceptionally interesting book. It should be read and in the library of anyone responsible for creating or protecting intellectual property or anyone concerned with preventing violations.

After introducing the basics, the author describes each of the four types of intellectual property—trademarks, copyrights, patents, and trade secrets. For each type, she covers the protection available by law, how it is obtained and maintained, and what happens in cases of suspected infringement. Emerging issues—such as cyber squatting, protection of computer programs, and the ethics of biotechnology patents—are also discussed, as well as recent changes in laws that protect intellectual property.

Along the way, the reader is given advice to help determine when something is do it yourself, and when it would be best to hire a lawyer. For those activities that you can do yourself, there are 20 examples to use as patterns for your own documents. For those where a lawyer should be used, the author recommends (p. 13): “Attempting to save money by retaining council who may be unfamiliar with intellectual property will only result in additional costs in the long run and may lead to the loss of critical rights and defenses. Money expended to protect intellectual property is nearly always worthwhile.”

Additionally, the author identifies aspects of international law governing intellectual property, explains how to perform an internal audit to identify your organization’s intellectual property, and provides information on useful Web sites.

Even though I’ve been interested in the protection of intellectual property for many years, this book contained a wealth of detail that was new to me, as well as a few surprises, such as this quote (p. 100): “One of the most common misconceptions about music is that anyone is free to play the radio or a purchased CD so the music can be heard throughout his or her place of business. This is not true, and in most cases the playing of music this way is a copyright infringement.”

All in all, this is an important reference book for any corporate or personal library.

CHRISTINE ROBINSON has more than 25 years of leadership experience in quality systems for the process industries. She has a master’s degree in quality, values, and leadership from Marian College. An avid reader, she spends a significant amount of time with her nose in books and her body at the library.

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