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Protecting Business-Related Intellectual Property

Think about some of the major companies around the country. They are often recognized by their logo, slogan, or other identifying mark.

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. Every company must protect its IP.

Protecting intellectual property through patents

Patents are granted for inventions that are new, useful, and non-obvious. A patent gives the inventor exclusive rights to use, sell, and manufacture the invention for a certain period, typically 20 years. To protect an invention with a patent, the inventor must apply and be approved by the patent office, which involves disclosing the technical details of the invention.

Trademarks for brand identity

Trademarks protect symbols, names, and slogans used to identify goods or services. The primary function of a trademark is to distinguish products or services from those of other businesses. Trademark protection is obtained by using the mark in commerce and, in many jurisdictions, registering it with the relevant authority. Trademark rights can last indefinitely, provided the mark is in continuous use.

Copyrights for creative works

Copyrights protect literary, artistic, musical, and certain other intellectual works. This protection automatically applies from the moment a work is created and fixed in a tangible form that is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Copyright doesn’t protect ideas or concepts but the expression of those ideas. Copyright holders have the exclusive right to use their work, create derivatives, and distribute copies. Copyright protection lasts for the author’s life plus 70 years.

Trade secrets for business advantages

Trade secrets encompass formulas, practices, processes, designs, instruments, patterns, or compilations of information that provide a business advantage over competitors who don’t know or use it. Protection of trade secrets is achieved through confidentiality agreements and, unlike other IP rights, can potentially last indefinitely as long as the secret isn’t disclosed.

IP protection is critical for all companies. Seeking legal assistance can benefit companies by helping them to proactively safeguard their interests and to react effectively in the event that those interests are compromised by the misconduct of other parties.