Intellectual property relates to the intangible product that you or your business has associated with your ideas, methods, processes, products, equipment, marketing and other aspects of how your product is presented to your customers.  Someone cannot physically touch intellectual property as it is an idea, concept or thought.  However, you can document and identify your intellectual property into recognized legal forms.

If you are unfamiliar with intellectual property and its various forms, the types of intellectual property are listed below.  Each header is a link to websites that provide more information and training on these topics.

Patents

Patents are a limited exclusionary right granted by individual countries.  Patents can cover any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.  This right starts and stops at a country border.  A ‘global patent’ does not exist.  Obtaining a patent can be a long and expensive process and we can help you understand the return on investment for obtaining a patent.

Trademarks

Trademarks, like patents, are a right granted by individual countries.  Trademarks, including service marks, relate to any word, slogan, symbol, design, or combination of these things, that identifies the source of your goods and services and distinguishes them from the goods and services of another party.  This right starts and stops at a country border.  A ‘global trademark’ does not exist.  A trademark can be obtained simply by using your mark – this is called an unregistered mark.  You may have seen “TM” or “SM” used on other peoples’ marks.  These letters indicate an unregistered trademark or unregistered service mark.  You are not required to register a mark, but you will obtain benefits from registering your mark, such as preventing other people from using your mark without your permission.  There are also US State trademark systems that you can utilize for your mark.  Similar to a federal trademark registration, the state trademark starts and stops at the state border.

Copyrights

Copyrights are also rights granted by individual countries.  Copyrights relate to original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. This right starts and stops at a country border.  A ‘global copyright’ does not exist. A copyright is obtained from the moment the work is created.  Like trademarks, you do not need to register your copyright, but you will obtain benefits from registering your copyright, such as preventing other people from using your copyright without your permission.

Trade Secrets

Trade Secrets are not rights granted by a government entity, but rather are rights defined by statute.  Trade secrets are any confidential business information which provides an enterprise a competitive edge.  Your trade secret needs to be secret or confidential, which means that people who have access to the trade secret have obligations contractually to keep the information secret.  The trade secret also needs to provide a competitive edge and provide value by being a secret.  Once a trade secret is discussed without confidentiality, it is lost.  However, you can maintain a trade secret as long as it is kept a secret (forever if appropriate).

July 19, 2018

Disclaimer: Note content of this blog post (“post”) is accurate as of the date of writing; laws change frequently and readers should not rely upon the online information.  The reader should seek the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from LRGrunzinger Law Office or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.