Methods of Legally Protecting Intellectual Property

Methods of Legally Protecting Intellectual Property

The beauty of human innovation is that all of the advances we’ve made as a species first started as an idea within someone’s imagination. Businesses are often founded on a unique idea or invention, and it follows, then, that protecting those ideas would be in the company’s best interests. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, there are four ways to protect intellectual property.

Patents protect the company’s right to an idea or invention for up to 20 years, and will fall under three main categories. Design patents protect ornamental designs which are new and original, and apply to manufactured items. The design of a tennis shoe could be protected under this type of patent. Utility patents may also apply to manufactured items, as well as machines, compositions of matter, and processes. Plant patents are designed to exclusively protect new or discovered varieties of plants, such as hybridized versions.

Trademarks are designed to reserve the rights to a name, word, phrase, symbol, color or even a sound which distinguishes an item or service as a unique product. Unlike patents, which have an expiration date, a trademark may continue to be renewed indefinitely.

Copyrights protect a body of written work, music or artwork which is protected by the Library of Congress. This protection lasts for the life of the author, plus 50 years after his death, during which time the work cannot be lawfully reproduced without permission from the owner.

Trade Secrets can be information which a company uses for competitive advantage in the business world. This information is held secret and cannot be used by competitors, although there are some methods of avoiding legal repercussions through methods like independent research or discovery. One common example is the formula used by the Coca Cola company, which is has been kept secret for the life of the company in order to preserve the unique nature of the product.

Bethel Law Corporation is experienced in the protection and defense of intellectual property with particular emphasis on trade secrets, their documentation, implementation, development, sale, and licensing. Please call our office to arrange a consultation.

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