World Book Day
is an annual celebration that inspires children to discover the joys of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own.
(IP) plays a huge role in protecting literature, whether it’s through copyright
, which protects the written words, patents
which help to protect the innovative ways we can now choose to read books and trademarks
, which protect book brands and ensure authors can get rewards for their originality and hard work.
The most common form of IP used to protect literature is copyright. Copyright is an automatic right, which safeguards an author’s work by stopping others from using it without permission. In literature, it protects a number of different features such as the written words, images and even film or television adaptations. Copyright is a powerful form of IP, which requires no registration and lasts for 70 years, from the end of the calendar year in which the last principal author dies. However, at the end of this time literature passes into the public domain and people are ten able to re-use the work for free, without needing to ask for permission from anyone.
An example of copyright infringement is when Harry Potter super fan, Steve Vander Ark attempted to publish a ‘Potter Lexicon’ without the permission of author JK Rowling. In 2008, Rowling filed (and won) a lawsuit against him, stopping the book’s release and professing it as "wholesale theft of 17 years of my hard work".
A trademark can also play a big part in protecting an author’s brand, by giving work a clear identity. Take Roald Dahl
for example, when creative agency ‘Sunshine’ was tasked with rebranding the Roald Dahl estate in 2015, they used a lively colour palette to characterise the world’s best loved children’s author. As part of this they cleverly used a sketch of a small paper aeroplane to imply the writer’s “experience as a pilot and life-long love of flight”. Having each book branded in the same way makes the reader aware of whose book they are enjoying.
Trade marks can be ‘registered’ if they are unique enough, so many character names from children’s books are actually registered rights. Names that have been trade marked in the past include characters such as Pinocchio, Tarzan and Tintin.
Patents have also become important rights within the world of books and reading, particularly since the increasing popularity of the e-book. Although the first eBook was initially developed back in 1971, it certainly wasn’t the accessible and powerful device that it is today. It had a small 6-inch screen, only 250MB of memory and originally sold for hundreds of pounds. Today’s eReader leader, the ‘Amazon Kindle’, wasn’t released until 2007 but by 2013 over 20 million had been sold.
Much of this success can probably be put down to huge competition that has driven hundreds of patent protected advancements, made over a relatively short period of time. This has led to a market leading eReader, which now has 16GB of memory, a HD display and is priced at under £100.
So IP protection is essential for a healthy creative industry and this protection means that authors and inventors alike get the credit and rewards they deserve for their work.
If you’d like to learn more about the different types of IP, you can download our free lesson plans and other teaching resources
from this website.