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What qualifies as intellectual property?

| Apr 23, 2021 | Intellectual Property |

Intellectual property is a collection of intangible assets that you create for your business. This may include your business’s name, automated processes and logo designs. These unique items must be protected.

There are four common kinds of intellectual property that you should protect. These include:

  • Trademarks
  • Patents
  • Trade secrets
  • Copyrights

Here is more about each one.

Trademarks

The first type of intellectual property to address is are trademarks. These are symbols, phrases, names and items that set your business apart from others. They are distinctive and linked only to your business. You may use them to promote or sell your product or service.

You can register your trademark with the state and federal government. Remember, if you register within a state, you’re only protected in that state.

Patents

There are a few kinds of patents that you may want to protect. These include:

  • Utility patents
  • Plant patents
  • Design patents

Once you have a unique, new invention, plant or design, file your patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. If the patent is granted, then you will have protection against others using your ideas and products for several years. The length of the patent is usually 15 to 20 years, depending on the type you receive.

Trade secrets

Protecting your trade secrets will also help your business. You may have unique formulas or techniques that you want to make sure other businesses don’t use. Protecting these might be harder than some other intellectual property, but using nondisclosure agreements, limiting who has access to those secrets and taking legal action against those who disclose them can help.

Copyrights

Finally, there are copyrights. Whenever you have an idea, you should get it copyrighted. For example, you can copyright:

  • Software
  • Books
  • Video and sound recordings
  • Graphic arts
  • Architectural designs

If you have a new idea, you need to register it to be sure it’s protected. This gives you the most leverage if someone infringes on the copyright.

As you can see, there are many types of intellectual property that need to be protected. Your attorney can review options with you to help keep those pieces of property safe.