Perhaps your business has invented a product or a process. Maybe you have created a catchy logo or other original works. With the hyper-competitive business environment ushered in through the global marketplace, your products and creations are the competitive edges you have over others offering similar products and services. Protecting that edge by exercising your intellectual property rights can mean the difference between thriving as a business leader and struggling as a business. Here is a look at the types of intellectual property protections that are available and why they’re important.
Understanding Intellectual Property: The Basics
Intellectual property refers to any original works created from an idea. Examples of intellectual property items include product inventions, designs, literary, and artistic works. Also, the symbols, names, and images that make up your brand. Several laws protect a creator’s intellectual property, allowing the creator to obtain financial benefits and recognition for their creation, as well as to control the use of the idea by others.
Safeguarding Your Brand Identity Through Trademarks
Your brand identity includes all of the items that you use to represent your business to the general public, such as your company’s name, signature, words, unique labeling, color schemes, sounds, and other sensory experiences. Trademarks protect the unique elements of your brand so that other companies cannot assume your logo and other identifying items to compete with you in the market. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) registers trademarks and generally, registrants must file separately for each country where they are seeking trademark protections.
Protecting Your Original Works by Copyright
A copyright is a legal protection that creators of original works have against other users. Works covered by copyrights include music, paintings, books, sculptures, advertisements, databases, maps, and technical drawings. Copyrights are registered with the U.S. Copyright Office and can be sought through the mail or online. To obtain a copyright, creators must send a copy of the work that needs to be registered.
How Patents Can Secure Your Innovative Ideas
A patent is an exclusive right to produce and sell an invention. Having the patent rights to a product allows a business to determine how and when others can use the product. Most patents that are issued in the U.S. are valid for 20 years from the date the application was filed with the USPTO. In some circumstances, the patent can be extended for a longer period. The three types of patents available include:
- Utility patents for the invention of new and useful processes, manufactured products, machines, and the composition of matter. According to Investopedia, 90 percent of the patents issued in the U.S. are utility patents.
- Design patents for original and ornamental designs created for manufactured products.
- Plant patents for those who create a new kind of plant that is capable of reproduction.
Navigating the IP Registration Process
Both the U.S. Copyright Office and the USPTO established methods to secure patents, trademarks, and copyrights. However, many small business owners are unsure of what type of intellectual property needs to be protected. An experienced business lawyer can assist you in developing a strategy to protect your intellectual property and help you to understand the types of intellectual property that you should register or apply to protect and whether these protections should be sought in the U.S. only or a global approach to IP protections will better serve the business. Contact the team at Brenden Kelley Law to learn more about way to protect your business and your intellectual property. Call us at 216-644-3359.