four-types-of-intellectual-property

When a business or an individual has an idea that they want to protect from being used by others without their permission, it is best to seek legal protection of that intellectual property.

By seeking property rights over your intellectual property — property that is a creation of the mind, such as an invention, symbol, or even a name.

You establish rightful ownership and prevent the unlawful use of your property.

What’s more, establishing intellectual property rights can help to fuel the economy and stimulate further innovation.

There are four main types of intellectual property protections, reviewed below. Work with an experienced intellectual property attorney to learn more about steps to take to secure the necessary protection for your intellectual property.

Four Types of Intellectual Property Protections

There are four types of intellectual property rights and protections (although multiple types of intellectual property itself). Securing the correct protection for your property is important, which is why consulting with a lawyer is a must. The four categories of intellectual property protections include:

Trade Secrets

Trade secrets refer to specific, private information that is important to a business because it gives the business a competitive advantage in its marketplace. If a trade secret is acquired by another company, it could harm the original holder.

Examples of trade secrets include recipes for certain foods and beverages (like Mrs. Fields’ cookies or Sprite), new inventions, software, processes, and even different marketing strategies. 

When a person or business holds a trade secret protection, others cannot copy or steal the idea. In order to establish information as a “trade secret,” and to incur the legal protections associated with trade secrets, businesses must actively behave in a manner that demonstrates their desire to protect the information.

Trade secrets are protected without official registration; however, an owner of a trade secret whose rights are breached–i.e. someone steals their trade secret–may ask a court to ask against that individual and prevent them from using the trade secret.

Patents

As defined by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), a patent is a type of limited-duration protection that can be used to protect inventions (or discoveries) that are new, non-obvious, and useful, such a new process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter.

When a property owner holds a patent, others are prevented, under law, from offering for sale, making, or using the product.

Copyrights

Copyrights and patents are not the same things, although they are often confused. A copyright is a type of intellectual property protection that protects original works of authorship, which might include literary works, music, art, and more. Today, copyrights also protect computer software and architecture.

Copyright protections are automatic; once you create something, it is yours. However, if your rights under copyright protections are infringed and you wish to file a lawsuit, then registration of your copyright will be necessary.

Trademarks

Finally, the fourth type of intellectual property protection is a trademark protection. Remember, patents are used to protect inventions and discoveries and copyrights are used to protect expressions of ideas and creations, like art and writing.

Trademarks, then, refer to phrases, words, or symbols that distinguish the source of a product or services of one party from another. For example, the Nike symbol–which nearly all could easily recognize and identify–is a type of trademark.

While patents and copyrights can expire, trademark rights come from the use of the trademark, and therefore can be held indefinitely. Like a copyright, registration of a trademark is not required, but registering can offer additional advantages.

Consult with an Intellectual Property Attorney to Learn More

Understanding the different types of intellectual property and the four categories of intellectual property protections can be confusing, and actually registering for those protections can be overwhelming. Indeed, businesses often have more to worry about that the particulars of a patent or other intellectual property protection requirement.

When you call our intellectual property attorneys at the offices of BrewerLong, we will handle all of the elements associated with your intellectual property protection, ranging from identifying the type of intellectual property protection you need to be managing all documentation and paperwork to secure that protection.

We can also help your business to take action if you believe that another party has breached your intellectual property rights.


To schedule a consultation with our lawyers, please call us directly or send us a message. Our Florida business lawyers are ready to start advising your business on its intellectual property rights today.

Author Photo

Trevor Brewer

Primarily working with business owners and their families, Trevor advises clients on business structuring and sale transactions, regulatory compliance, third-party contracts, liability protection and general matters facing small business owners. His focus extends beyond legal advice and includes business strategy and wealth preservation. Trevor also works with families regarding their estate planning needs, including probate, trust administration, and wills.

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