Business owners create things. Whether you created a new invention to sell, an artistic work to publish, or a brand for your company, creations of the mind are highly important to business owners. Under the law, such creations of the mind are referred to as “intellectual property,” or “IP.” The law also provides people with certain protections for their IP, to keep others from stealing or wrongly benefitting from their idea. The following are the three main intellectual property protections in the United States.

Copyrights—Copyrights give people who create some type of original work the exclusive rights to that piece of work. The types of work protected by copyrights include literary works, artistic works, artistic performances, music, films, architectural designs, or any other intellectual expression of an idea.

Trademarks—Trademarks protect business names, product names, brand logos, or any other word or symbol that works to identify your product, service, or company. If you register a name, word, logo, or other identifier with the government, you will have exclusive rights to use that trademark, at least within a certain geographical area.

Patents—Patents protect inventions, which can be either a product, a process for doing something, or a new solution to a technical problem. Patents protect the owner from those who may try to copy or take credit for the invention, however patents also require the owner to release information regarding their invention in order to increase technical knowledge among others.

Each different type of IP protection has its own procedures for acquiring the protection and has its own costs and benefits. For example, copyrights are issued by the United States Copyright Office, while patents and trademarks are registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. (Learn how to file a patent here) While you are allowed to apply for IP protection on your own, it is always helpful to have an experienced IP and business attorney guiding you through the process, so you do not risk making a mistake and having your application denied. An attorney can also help you determine the costs of each kind of IP protection, how long each protection lasts, and any other pertinent information you may need.

If you own a business, you should consider obtaining a trademark, copyright, or patent for your brand, products, or ideas. Do not hesitate to contact a California business lawyer for assistance today.

- Claire Kalia


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