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What is Intellectual Property?

Posted on April 12, 2022 by Michael Smith

Intellectual Property is the product of your thinking which may be used for commercial value. To put it differently, you think about a song and write down the words - you have the legal right to stop others from copying or making a song based on your lyrics. This right you have can make you money if someone is willing to pay you for your tune. Maybe your boss asked you to write a computer program. Who owns the work? You might have designed a new mouse trap and have the design on computer. Or you've created a distinctive logo for your organization. But Intellectual Property goes deeper than tunes or even copyrights. Let us examine the four main areas of Intellectual Property law: Trade Secrets, Copyrights, Trademarks and Patents.

Trade Secrets

Trade secrets give the owner a competitive advantage. If some information has value to competitors and they do not know about it then it is a trade secret. If the information wasn't kept reasonably safe (secret) then it is not a trade secret. Trade secrets may be sold with the company or stolen from poor employees. Maybe a former employee did not sign a non-disclosure statement before going to work in the competition. Some also reverse engineer software to achieve the source code. This highly secure source code for computers is their trade secret, giving them an edge over the competition. The trick is you need to keep your trade secrets as such, secrets.


Copyrights protect all sorts of writing by singers, writers, programmers, artists, etc.. . These are the best known of intellectual property. Registering with the US Copyright office can improve the automatic protection. You should have your copyright material on tape, paper, or computer. Copyright protection applies to the "literal expression." It will not protect the"underlying" theme of this writing. It has to have some creativity. You can not copyright a simple listing. You don't actually need to have a copyright notice since March 1st, 1989. The suggested note is"copyright" year writer's name. By way of instance, this guide is going to have a copyright. Copyright 2005 Stuart Simpson. But it isn't necessary.


Trademarks have to be a special name, design, emblem, logo, colour, container, etc.. .that companies use to distinguish their products from others in the same sector. You need to have a strong name to get a mark, as common words get less protection. Like Stuart's Cold Ice Cream Business. My name and the descriptive term (cold) are weak marks. However, a distinctive name like Netflix, is a strong marker. Netflix is a"service" mark. It falls into exactly the same class as trademarks. Your signature must be submitted to the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). But first, the mark has to be put to use"in commerce that Congress may regulate." This means you've got to sell across state lines or have a business that caters to interstate or international travelers. After you do so, you can file another form to show the mark is actually being used. The PTO checks for similar marks. You can not use the circled R just yet. You may only use this if your logo or mark was registered.


Patent law provides inventor of new and distinctive invention the right to use this invention for a specific time period. The US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) must discover that the invention qualifies for patent protection. Your invention must be new and novel, not obvious. What do you do with a patent? Ordinarily, the inventors receive a license agreement with a company to make the product for a time period. In exchange, the business pays the inventor royalties for every item sold.