Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce. Works protected by copyright, patent, and trademark are intellectual property and preserve the intellectual property owner’s legal rights in the protected work. There are several types of protections for intellectual property. These include patents, copyrights, and trademarks.
What is a Patent?
A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. To get a patent, technical information about the invention must be disclosed to the public in a patent application. Currently, there are over 35 million patented works, in the United States and worldwide. When a product is patented, the patent owner has the exclusive right to prevent or stop others from commercially exploiting the patented invention. In other words, patent protection means that the invention cannot be commercially made, used, distributed, imported or sold by others without the patent owner’s consent.
What is a Copyright?
Copyright is a legal term used to describe the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. Works covered by copyright range from books, music, paintings, sculpture and films, to computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps and technical drawings. Copyright protection extends only to expressions, and not to ideas, procedures, methods of operation or mathematical concepts. Copyright may or may not be available for titles, slogans, or logos, depending on whether they contain sufficient authorship. In most circumstances copyright does not protect names.
What is a Trademark?
A trademark is a name, symbol, word, or combination of two or more of these that a person places on goods that the person sells or distributes, a container of the goods, a display associated with the goods, or a label or tag affixed to the goods, to identify those goods that the person makes or sells, and to distinguish them from goods that another person makes or sells. It can be confusing to figure out what type of legal protection can be afforded to specific intellectual property. If you are the creator or owner of a work and need help regarding protecting your work and preserving your legal rights in your work, contact an Intellectual Property attorney to determine how to get started on applying for a patent, copyright, or trademark.