Understanding the Role of Intellectual Property in Construction

A few decades ago, intellectual property rights were the least of concerns for players in the construction industry. But like other industries, the construction industry is changing quickly, making protecting intellectual property rights a priority for industry players.

Almost all types of intellectual property rights, from copyrights, trademarks, patents and industrial design rights, apply in the construction industry. This guide looks into all the types of intellectual properties that apply to the construction industry and the role they play, so keep reading to learn more.

Understanding Intellectual Property

Intellectual property (IP) refers to any intangible property created by applying creative and intellectual skills. The most common forms of IPs include patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets. 

The law considers IPs as the creator’s property and thus provides avenues for securing those rights through registration under intellectual property laws.

Individual IPs and Their Role in the Construction Industry

Copyright Protections

Copyright protects any original work created through intellectual and artistic skill. These include drawings, plans, models, designs, and other architectural works. In the construction industry, copyright protections apply to original works such as building plans, technical drawings, documents and codes of practice. 

Copyright applies by default and is owned by the creator of the work in question unless they created it as part of employment or gave up those rights to another party. However, registering your copyright makes enforcement easy since you will have the paperwork to prove ownership. 

Your plans and technical drawings are the foundation of how projects turn out, which can be a huge marketing point, boosting your profitability as an investor or architect. Copyright protections run for life and 70 years after the author’s death.

Trademarks Protections

Trademark protection covers your brand’s identifiers, such as business name, logo, and slogan. If you are consistent with quality product and service delivery in the construction industry, clients associate your name, logo and slogans with quality which is a huge plus for your business reputation. 

Registering your identifiers gives you the legal authority to stop others from profiting off your names or logos and suing for infringement. This way, you safeguard your reputation, which is critical for your brand and, ultimately, your profitability.

Patent Protections

If you are involved in creating new technologies for the construction industry, patenting your innovations is a great way of ensuring only you have exclusive rights to profit from them and stop others from doing so. 

For example, if you develop a new type of insulation, your invention could qualify for patenting. Patent rights last for 20 years from the date you apply for registration, after which anyone else can replicate your innovation without violating your rights. 

Patent protections play a significant role in incentivizing inventions since the innovators are assured of profiting off their invention in the 20 years patent rights are in effect. Even after the lapse of 20 years, they will still retain a competitive edge over others.

Industrial Design Rights

Industrial design rights are the Canadian version of design patents. Unlike patent rights, industrial design rights cover the non-functional or aesthetics of a product, such as a shape, texture, and ornamentation. This means the product doesn’t have to be novel; only its aesthetics must be to qualify for registration. 

For example, if you create a unique bit for a construction drill, you can register the design as your IP even when you may not have ownership of the technology involved in creating the operation of the drill. The need for procuring rights to industrial design is much more significant for players in the design field of the construction industry, such as interior designers.

IP’s Collective Role in the Construction Industry

Intellectual property (IP) rights are fundamental to the construction industry, safeguarding valuable ideas and designs created by architects, engineers, contractors and other professionals. 

Allowing innovators to register patents or trademarks under their name enables them to receive just rewards for their efforts while also protecting against any misuse or imitation of a product that can cause damage financially as well as reputationally in an already competitive environment. 

The use of IPs is instrumental in driving innovation forward within the sector – encouraging investment which results in long-term growth opportunities across many industries supported by its reach.