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The Four Types of Intellectual Property

by Louise W. Rice

Intellectual property refers to the rights one can get over something created by their human intellect created. Under this type of property, their works – whether they’re artistic or not – belong to them entirely. Their assets will have legal protection against outside implementation or use without them offering their consent first.

But while many want to protect their assets, not everyone is aware of the different types of intellectual property, and they let their intellectual property lawyers handle this matter. However, if you want to safeguard your assets in the best way possible, you should learn more about the various kinds of IP.

In this post, we will tackle the four different IP types so you can get a deep understanding of them and how they work.

1. Trademarks

Trademarks are some of the most popular and used types of intellectual property, and they are given to companies. When a company owns a particular trademark, other firms cannot copy it or use it in any way. To put it simply, a trademark can protect a company’s logos, branding, and different phrases that are exclusive to that organization and point to the source of a product.

The most common intellectual properties that usually get a trademark are pictures, phrases, and words. However, this is not where they stop. Some companies even managed to get other intellectual properties trademarked, with Coca-Cola being the perfect example.

Coca-Cola stuck to the same bottle shape for a very long time, and its shape is iconic at this point. In 1960, the recognizable bottle turned into a registered trademark. Other famous trademarks include Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, KFC, McDonald’s, and Nike.

Trademarks ensure that a company’s competition will not be able to take advantage of the recognition it got over the time and encourage brands to grow through their own creativity and originality.

2. Copyrights

Copyrights are also very popular forms of IP protection, and they are widely used to protect someone’s artistic, literary, and dramatic works. Through copyright, someone who creates any work of art will have ownership of their creation, but also of any distribution, display, performance, reproductions, and anything of the sort.

Things like architecture, literary works, films, and music are all protected under the Copyright Act. What’s important to know is that you do not necessarily have to file any documents. When you create something from scratch, you are the rightful author and have ownership over it. But you can still get some extra protection if you file official copyright.

If your copyright is infringed, then you will be able to file a lawsuit if you registered your copyright, meaning you can obtain some money out of it.

3. Patents

Patents are often mistaken for copyrights and vice-versa, although there is a difference between the two. While copyrights protect the ownership of literary or artistic works, patents protect the rights of inventors of different systems, discoveries, objects, or machines.

Some of these inventions could include different new machines created by tech firms or systems they came up with, but they could also include new drugs that firms in the pharmaceutical field created.

This is not the only difference between copyrights and patents, though. With patents, you need to register if you want any type of protection. Most of the time, the process of registering patents can be quite lengthy and difficult, and many people are confused or even afraid to start it. Luckily, there are lawyers who can walk you through this.

It’s also important to know that the protection offered by patents is quite short, respectively around 20 years. This is a great way to make companies consider innovating during this time.

4. Trade Secrets

Trade secrets are pieces of information about a company and are usually confidential. This information could be something that places the business ahead of the competition in the marketplace. If a different firm obtains this secret, it can have serious consequences for the original owner.

Nobody can take an idea when it has trade secret protection. You do not need to register anything to have protection over a trade secret. If a different company steals the IP, the original holder can go to a court and ask them to prevent the competition from using the trade secret.

Some of the best examples of trade secrets include distinct distribution methods, ad campaigns, and recipes for different beverages and foods.

Final Thoughts

Knowing the four types of intellectual properties can help you decide which one you have to implement for your creation or idea. If you want your intellectual property to be protected, make sure to register for the right IP type.

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