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What Is Intellectual Property?

On Behalf of | Oct 10, 2017 | Business Law

When it comes to assets, there are both physical, and those that are not necessarily tangible but still hold tremendous value. The latter are known as “intellectual property,” and they’re extremely important assets for their creators, owners, and those who hold the rights to them.

Intellectual property is defined as property that is the creation of human intellect, or in other words not necessarily an object, but could also encompass ideas and expressions. To help you better understand why these assets are so valuable, let’s take a closer look at the different recognized types of intellectual property, explain them in greater detail, and look at how they’re protected.

A copyright is a legal protection that ensures the owner or author of a creative work reserves the right to monetize it. Copyrights are issued for a wide variety of works, including written works like stories, novels, books, manuals, website content, and other written content, but also things like songs, movies, recordings of live performances, television broadcasts, and so much more. Depending on the nature of the work and who the copyright holder is, they can be guaranteed for as long as 95 years!

A patent is how inventions are protected as intellectual property. When an investor, inventor, team of scientists, or other group successfully manage to create an entirely new product or find a way to improve an already existing product, they may apply for a patent which then guarantees their right to monetize and control how this invention is manufactured or utilized. Most people think of patents for inventions, but they can also be issued for things like formulas for new medications.

Trademark protections are designed to protect a business’s reputation by forbidding anyone else from using any sort of a recognizable sign, design, or expression that can easily be identified as belonging to that business or being related to any of their products. Brand logos are the most obvious trademarks: McDonalds is always associated with the “golden arches,” Chevron gas with their chevron logo, and Fed Ex with the purple and orange script with the arrow mixed in. However, product names (i.e. Big Mac) and even marketing slogans (i.e. “I’m lovin’ it.) can all be trademarked as well.

Trade Secrets
Trade secrets any sort of technique, process, or method used to create something or perform a task that’s unique to an individual or business. Perhaps the best example of a trade secret is a recipe, which restaurants closely guard to prevent their competition from figuring out. Kentucky Fried Chicken isn’t shy about flaunting that their chicken batter is seasoned with 11 herbs and spices, but what ingredients they are and in what quantities are both closely guarded trade secrets.