As we celebrate World Intellectual Property Day today, we have an opportunity to review the common types of intellectual property created by artists, writers, musicians, inventors, business owners and others here and around the world. Each of the four common types of intellectual property; copyrights, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets, are distinctly different from the other with various registration requirements and lengths of protection. Here is a brief description of each area:
Copyright is a form of Constitutional protection granted to creators of “original works of authorship” which are reduced to “tangible” form such as a book, a photograph, a song, a sculpture, a movie script, a blueprint, choreography, etc. The time period for copyright protection is generous and lengthy based on the creator’s life. Registration is not required, but is essential for full protection from the use of the copyright by others.
Trademark is a form of statutory protection available for words, phrases, designs, logos, or other symbols that represent a company and distinguish it from other companies. Trademark also includes service names (a celebrity name) and trade dress (the look of a place of business). Registration is required for protection in the USA, internationally, and sometimes in individual states. Federal registration requires renewal but can last indefinitely as long as renewals are current and the company remains in business.
Patent is a form of Constitutional protection granted to owners of inventions that prevent others from making, using, importing, or selling the invention without permission of the owner. Patents protect things such as inventions, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and genetic modification of plants. There are two types of patents, utility patents that protect the way something is made or used, and design patents that protect the way something looks. Registration is required for protection. Utility patents last 20 years while design patents last 14 year.
Trade Secret is a form of common law protection for secrets of a trade, a business, a company. Examples of trade secrets are the Coca-Cola formula and the recipe for KFC. The key here is “secret” which means there is no registration and no public disclosure of any kind, otherwise, it would not be a secret. The protection lasts for as long as the secret remains a secret.
Whether you are an individual or a business, if you create, develop, or invent intellectual assets, you may be entitled to protect those assets at home in the US and internationally. If you have questions protecting your intellectual property rights, please contact David Mouery at Kendrick Law Group, 407-641-5847 or David@kendricklawgroup.com