Being an entrepreneur is not necessarily synonymous with being an adult. There are children across the world who are leading the way in business and developing creative works that have gained respect and demand in the marketplace.
When it comes to protecting the intellectual property rights as a minor the legal pathway forward can be tricky. Whether or not you are a minor and seeking to register a patent or a copyright, it’s always best to seek the advice of an experienced intellectual property attorney to ensure that you are covering all of your bases especially when as a minor you need to ensure you are entitled to the protections that you seek.
Generally speaking, minors can obtain copyrights and patents under the following circumstances:
Copyrights for Minors
Creative works by minors are protected by copyright. That protection is granted the moment the work is created in a fixed or tangible medium. There is no age requirement to receive this protection under copyright laws. In addition to having copyright protection the moment a creative work is made, minors can also formally register their work with the United States Copyright Office. Likewise, minors can send DMCA Takedown Notices to demand that any work stolen from them is removed online by the web host or ISP.
One area where a minor may run into trouble with copyright protection, however, would be bringing a lawsuit against someone who is infringing on their copyright. Minors are not permitted to sue for copyright infringement on either the state or federal level, so the minor would need to have a parent or a court-appointed guardian who could bring the suit on his or her behalf.
Minors can and do invent patentable products and any invention created by a minor should be filed in the name of the inventor. Pursuant to patent rules and regulations each inventor must be named and each named inventor must execute an oath (declaration) in order to obtain a patent for their invention. There is no minimum age for a person to be qualified to execute an oath or declaration, but the person must be competent to execute, i.e., understand the document that the person is executing and their obligations. See 37 CFR 1.63
Here is a great link for young inventors: https://www.uspto.gov/kids/kids.html
Protecting your intellectual property rights as a minor depends on a number of factors, so again, it’s best to work in tandem with a qualified intellectual property attorney to ensure that your actions are legal on both a federal and state level. If you are a minor who seeks to register a trademark or copyright, or if you are a parent/guardian representing your child and you’d like to learn your options, we invite you to contact our intellectual property attorneys at 888-666-0062 to schedule a consultation.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.