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What Qualifies As Intellectual Property?

Intellectual Property, or IP, refers to creations of the mind such as inventions, designs, writing, names symbols and images. IP is protected by the law in many forms in order to allow people to earn credit, recognition or financial benefits from what they create.

Types of Intellectual Property

Trademark
Registered trademarks are used to protect your brand’s identity by keeping other people from using its name or symbol. Having a trademark is very important to your company’s success. Once acquired, you trademark can last indefinitely, and only needs to be renewed once every 10 years. Because it is intellectual property, it can also be licensed or assigned to others.

Copyright
Copyrights protect works like novels, computer programs, plays, sheet music, films and paintings. The author of the copyrighted work has the ability to publish, perform, communicate and adapt their work. The owner of the copyright also has the ability to control the commercial exploitation of their work.

Patent
A patent is granted to the owner of an invention that prevents other people from making, using, importing or selling the invention without the consent of the owner. A product that gives a new technical solution to a problem is eligible for a patent. A patent can also be made for a new method of doing something, the composition of a new product or a technical improvement on how an object works. Terms of a patent last for 20 years from the date of filing for it.

Trade secrets
Trade secrets are pieces of information that are important to a business or company and are not known to the public. For example, trade secrets might include a method or technique that would give a business an edge over its competitors. Trade secrets are protected by the law in order to be kept confidential except from certain key individuals in the company. Legal action can be taken against a person who reveals a trade secret.