One of the many unique things about running a small business is having to obtain at least a cursory knowledge of things like accounting, administration and business law. For those who work in creative industries, intellectual property and copyright law are important elements of your business. Today, we’ll discuss the importance of intellectual property for your creative business. 

What is intellectual property law?

Intellectual property rights are a set of legal rights that give creators protection for their original works, products, inventions and other artistic works. There are different types of intellectual property, including:

  • Trademarks
  • Patents
  • Copyrights
  • Trade secrets
  • Industrial designs

We have previously discussed the different types of intellectual property on our blog in more detail. 

Why is intellectual property important for creative business owners?


Ultimately, intellectual property is about protecting your original work and ideas. As an artist, you work hard to create original content such as:

  • Graphics
  • Written works
  • Illustrations
  • Designs
  • Photographs
  • Art

In today’s technology, with share-friendly culture, the chances of someone appropriating your work without permission are high. By taking the time to learn and understand copyright laws, you can protect your work from being stolen or copied, and therefore prevent others from capitalizing on your intellectual property. It’s essential that you also refrain from infringing on someone else’s intellectual property, so check out these tips to ensure you’re not violating someone else’s copyrights. 


Scenarios you may encounter, and what to do:

  1. You discover some of your original artwork is being used without permission. This is an example of someone breaching your intellectual property rights. One way to stop this would be to send that person a cease and desist letter, which should lay out exactly what infringement has occurred. If they continue to use your artwork, you may need to commence a legal action to stop them and to seek payment for damages.
  2. If you create work for a client, but they don’t pay you and go on to use your work without permission. In this case, legal action is probably the last resort. Perhaps you’ve contacted them several times and sent them late fee invoices, but still haven’t received anything from the client. Then you could send a threat of legal action; sometimes this is enough to spur people into paying. Or, you could send a cease and desist letter to ask them to stop using your work immediately. 
  3. You receive a cease and desist letter from someone else for breaching their intellectual property. In this scenario, it’s important that you remain calm and don’t respond without careful consideration. It’s especially important that you don’t act out publicly, as it might be tempting to take this to social media, but this could work against you in future litigation. We recommend that you consult with a lawyer to figure out your options. It’s a possibility that the sender’s legal stance is weak, but only legal consultation will tell. 


If you’re a creative business owner and have any questions or concerns about intellectual property, we are here to help. Contact us today to book an appointment with one of our small business lawyers.