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What are the categories of intellectual property?

On Behalf of | Jun 11, 2024 | Intellectual Property

Intellectual property (IP) legally protects your company’s assets, including ideas, inventions, designs, symbols, names, images and literary and artistic output. It allows you to safeguard your core business. It also protects your research and development efforts. It may also serve as leverage in negotiating cross-licensing and counterclaims.

Intellectual property has three main categories:

Copyrights

Copyrights include original works, also known as tangible mediums, including novels, computer software, movies, songs and other works. Copyright laws do not cover facts, ideas, systems or methods of operation. However, it protects the method of expression of such things.

Copyrights allow intellectual property to remain in the possession of the creator for the entirety of their life span and 70 years after death.

Patents

Patents, on the other hand, are a limited monopoly that grants the patent holder the exclusive right to make, use and sell their intellectual property for a specific period. When that period lapses, the patented item becomes public domain.

There are five primary requirements for patentability. These include patentable subject matter, utility, novelty, nonobviousness and enablement. Patents are territorial and are enforceable only within a specific geographic area.

Trademarks

A trademark may be a word, symbol or phrase that identifies your products, distinguishing them from others. There should be a strong relationship between a trademark and the items it distinguishes for it to qualify for protection. These relationships may be arbitrary, fanciful, suggestive, descriptive or generic.

If a trademark qualifies for protection, there are two ways to acquire trademark rights. The first is by being the first to use the mark in commerce. The second is by being the first to register the mark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). Like patents, they are also territorial.

Knowing the best method for protecting your creations and your company’s assets is essential. An experienced attorney can guide you through the process of selection. They can also help you understand how the method you choose may best benefit you.

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