Intellectual property is an asset of your business, similar to real estate, equipment, or goodwill. There are four main categories of intellectual property: copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and patents. Though they are all intellectual property, they are very different.
A copyright protects original artistic and creative works, like photographs, paintings, movies, and books. Notably, a copyright lasts for a pretty long time: in most cases, copyrights last for 70 years following the death of the author. Copyrights give the author the exclusive rights to produce, publish, sell, or otherwise use the work. That is to say, no other person has the right to copy it.
A trademark is a word, phrase, or symbol (or a combo of them) which is used by a business to identify the source of their goods or services. Typically we think of business names or logos as common types of trademarks.
But interestingly enough, trademarks can also include sounds, smells, and trade dress. A common trademark misconception is that it gives you full ownership of the word/mark. While that is true to an extent, trademark rights typically extend only to the goods/services with which they are used.
Trade secrets are a special kind of intellectual property. Whereas copyrights, patents, and trademarks can be registered, the point of a trade secret is that it’s a secret. Trade secrets are a business’s information or data that provides some economic value due to the fact that it is not publicly known. Customer lists, formulas, and manufacturing processes are often considered trade secrets.
Lastly, a patent is a property right only granted by the United States Patent & Trademark Office. There are no common law patent rights like there are with trademarks and copyrights. Generally, patents apply to new inventions or developments.
Check out this episode of All Up In Yo’ Business to learn more about the four types of intellectual property, and why it should matter to your business. And be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more!
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Want to know more about intellectual property? Check out: Get Educated About Intellectual Property.