Almost every business has valuable intellectual property to protect. This may include trade secrets, patents, trademarks, and copyrights. To prevent other businesses from using your ideas or products without permission, you must take certain legal steps to tell the world they belong to you.
Below, I summarize each type of intellectual property and how it can be protected.
A patent is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The right gives the holder of the patent “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention in the United States or “importing” the invention into the United States for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted.
A trademark protects words, names, symbols, sounds, or colors that distinguish goods and services from those manufactured or sold by others and indicate the source of the goods. Trademarks, unlike patents, can be renewed for as long as they are being used in commerce. Although the registration of a trademark is not required in the U.S., there are benefits of registration through the USPTO.
A copyright is a form of protection provided to the authors of “original works of authorship” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other works, both published and unpublished. A copyright protects the form of expression rather than the subject matter of the writing. Copyrights are filed with the U.S. Copyright Office.
A trade secret generally comprises a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique or process used in one’s business, and has an independent economic value that provides an advantage over competitors who are not aware of it or use it. Under most circumstances, a trade secret is lost once it is independently discovered.
The theft of intellectual property is becoming a growing problem for businesses of all sizes. It is imperative to try to secure your property and enforce your rights.
How We Can Help
If you are concerned about your IP rights, it is imperative to consult with an experienced intellectual property attorney. Our firm can help you achieve your business goals while protecting your assets and minimizing your liability