Intellectual property refers to a creation from the mind or intellect of a person or business that has economic value. Common examples include photos and artwork, music production, writing and computer apps.
This broad definition means that companies both large and small need to safeguard these assets. Several avenues exist to accomplish this.
Information from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce describes copyright as the legal means to prevent others from copying IP created by a business. A company does not have to take this step; however, this could result in another company using its intellectual property without penalty.
The process of establishing copyright protection begins with filling out a copyright application with the United States Copyright Office. The process involves a small fee, takes several months and grants the author or company copyright protection for 70 years or longer.
This option offers a separate method to protect a company’s IP assets. It covers the creation of a wide range of intellectual achievements:
- Unique materials
A company must register patentable products with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and pay a small fee. Businesses typically register for one of two types of patents: a utility patent that covers the technology or a design patent that covers the visual value of the product.
This area of law covers aspects of IP that deal with names, logos and other indicators of a company’s brand or image. Trademark registration grants a company the right to use this material for commercial use.
Smart legal action can allow a company to benefit from its intellectual creations. It typically grants exclusive rights to use IP in sales and services.