Intellectual property (IP) refers to innovations of the mind, such as inventions, scholarly and creative works, patterns and marks, names and likenesses used in trade and business. All IP is protected by the various laws in existence locally, regionally nationally, and internationally. Laws exist for patents, trademarks, copyright, service marks, trade secrets and more.
What is a Patent?
A patent is an absolute right granted for an invention, which is a product or a method that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or proposes a new specialized solution to a problem. To obtain a patent, methodological information about the invention must be revealed to the public in a patent application. The process for obtaining a patent is complex. If you are interested in obtaining a patent, you should first visit this website: The US Patent and Trademark Office. Once you have begun to understand this process and the associated laws you can apply for a patent. However, keep in mind this is a complex process and using an attorney specializing in patents would be the best avenue to use.
What is copyright?
Copyright is a legal term used to illustrate the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. Creations covered by copyright range from books, music, paintings, sculpture, films, computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps, technical drawings, and more. Copyright is not a complex IP to apply for and most people can easily complete a form and submit their work. Be sure to visit the Copyright Office online to learn everything you need to apply for a copyright, including fees, what to submit, etc: US Copyright Office.
What is a trademark?
A trademark is a sign which distinguishes between goods or services of one company from those of other companies. Trademarks are safeguarded by intellectual property rights. Trademark protection can be obtained through registration, by completing an application for registration via the trademark office and paying the required fees. The website is the same as for patents.
What is a Service Mark?
A service mark is a mark that distinguishes between services. Businesses use service marks to connect their services and differentiate them from other services in the same field. Service marks consist of letters, words, symbols, and other devices that help notify consumers about the origin or source of a particular service. Registration can be completed at the US Patent and Trademark Office.
What is a Trade Secret?
The Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“UTSA”) classifies a trade secret as: information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process that produces independent economic value. These secrets are either tangible or impending, and generally are not known or easily discovered by other persons who might receive monetary value from its revelation or use; and is the focus of efforts that are logical under the conditions to preserve its secrecy. There are two basic situations in which acquiring the use of a trade secret is illegal. If a trade secret is acquired through illegal means or if through a breach of confidence then there is a legal standing for suit. Trade secrets may be obtained by lawful means such as private discovery, reverse engineering, and unintentional disclosure. The trade secret holder’s failure to take reasonable protective measures can allow this to occur. The misappropriation of trade secrets is considered a form of unfair competition. Reverse engineering is oftentimes restricted as found in computer programs.
What is Industrial Design?
An industrial design right is an intellectual property right that shields the visual design of objects that are not purely functional. An industrial design consists of the creation of a model, pattern or composition of a pattern or color, or permutation of a pattern and color in three-dimensional form containing aesthetic value. An industrial design can be a two- or three-dimensional prototype used to produce a product, industrial commodity or handicraft.
What is Trade Dress?
Trade dress is a legal term of art that generally refers to characteristics of the illustration of a product or its packaging or the design of a building that signifies the origination of the product to consumers.
What is Fair Use?
Fair use is any copying of copyrighted material done for a partial and that changes the purpose, such as to comment upon, disparage, or lampoon a copyrighted work. Such uses can be done without permission from the copyright owner. Fair use is a defense against a claim of copyright infringement.
Commentary and Criticism
If you are commenting upon or criticizing a copyrighted work a book review or any valid review, fair use principles allow you to replicate some of the work to accomplish your purposes.
These are the most common forms of intellectual property. If you decide that something you have created falls under one of the categories stated in this article, then you should look into registering the work or product. Be certain that what you are registering is not the same as what someone else has already registered.