What is Intellectual Property (IP)?

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Allison Harrison

Written by Attorney Todd Fichtenberg

The three main different types of intellectual property (IP) are copyright, trademark, and patent. Trademark law protects logos, company names, and phrases that identify goods or services sold in commerce. Copyright law protects works such as music, art, books, articles, software, movies, etc. Patent law protects inventions. Each of these types of intellectual property protect different rights. 

The name and logo of your business could be trademarked as long as they meet certain restrictions and requirements. Trademarking the name and logo of your business informs others that you are selling goods or services under that name and logo. This prevents other businesses from confusing the public by using your name and logo to sell their goods or services. A well-known example of a trademark and logo is Chevrolet® and the Bowtie. You could not manufacture your own cars and sell them using Chevrolet® or the Bowtie logo without violating trademark laws. There is no limit on how long you can have a trademark, but you have to file a statement with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office every so often to keep it active.  

If your business creates articles, books, or artwork, you already have an automatic copyright on those works of art. However, in order to fully prevent others from infringing on your works of art, you should register them with the Library of Congress. A copyright in your articles, books, or artwork could prevent others from selling them, such as on T-shirts, without your authorization. A copyright lasts for the life of the author plus seventy years.  

If you create useful inventions, such as car parts or systems, those may be patentable. Unlike trademarks and copyrights, the life of a patent is relatively short. A patent lasts for 20 years from the date you file for the patent. This gives you a 20 year monopoly on selling the invention in exchange for disclosing to the public in your patent application exactly how it is made.  

We can help you navigate the complex intellectual property legalities. Give Attorney Fichtenberg a call today at (614)440-1395 to see what actions may be right for you to protect your intellectual property.

Please note that the information contained in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and not as specific legal advice. The facts of your situation may differ from this general information. It is not intended to and does not in any way establish an attorney-client relationship. 

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