Over the past few months, we’ve seen an increased consensus on the importance of investing in black business in the black community. I believe we are all aware of the disadvantages of past institutional and structural racism that have negatively impacted the progress of people of color. So how do we close the racial gap and promote black business further? One of the most pressing considerations in establishing the proper building blocks in businesses of people of color, are establishing Intellectual Property Protection. As a community we are no stranger to the growing problem of cultural appropriation. Often members of the black community are robbed of the credit and profit of their creative ideas, investments, and hard work, as black culture has become the newest “trend” in popular society. We however will not continue to take this appropriation lightly and all hope is certainly not loss in this struggle. We have Intellectual property rights! More importantly taking advantage of these rights are imperative to increasing productivity and profit in black businesses.
Intellectual Property is a sector of the law that provides an individual the rights over the creations of their mind, guaranteeing the creator an exclusive right over their creations for a certain period of time. The main sectors of Intellectual Property include Patent, Trademark, and Copyright Law. Patent law focuses on the utility and design protection of novel inventions. Trademark law protection focuses on the establishment of a legally registered mark that identifies a manufacturer’s unique goods or services that protect them from counterfeiting and infringement. Copyright law focuses on the protection of original works such as authorship of literary, dramatic, artistic, and musical works.
One of the biggest pitfalls black creatives fall susceptible to in starting a business, inventing a product, or creating work is failure to obtain proper protection of those creations. However, this isn’t always attributed to lack of effort in the black community; lack of access to intellectual property protection often is a result of an inequitable playing field. Legal assistance often can be costly and attempting to complete the process without legal help can lead to the forfeiture of those rights simply due to mistake. How can these pitfalls be avoided you may ask? Well first and foremost becoming familiar with the applicable legal field of your work is essential. The United States Patent Trademark Office (USPTO) provides eLearning modules on all areas of intellectual property law which can help familiarize yourself with the basic concepts of the law prior to seeking legal advice. Non-profit organizations and Law School clinics are another great resource for receiving free or low-cost legal assistance. These organizations can provide you with the preliminary work of protection eligibility as well as assist in the filing process of the application. Last but certainly not least you can tune in here monthly where I will go into detail about the fundamentals and core principles of each sector of the law. Black Businesses Matter and protection is essential so together we will make it happen!
About The Author: BriAuna Daye
picture credit: Sabrena Khadija