Saturday, December 5, 2009

Intellectual Property Explained

Intellectual Property

As you may expect, you are legally entitled to ownership rights over any "creation of the mind" that you generate. Under intellectual property law, you are granted sole possession rights for a certain, predefined period of time. Depending on the type of intellectual property in question, this length of time may vary.

There are three main types of protection you can obtain for your property: patents, copyrights, and trademarks. A fourth type of intellectual property, known as a trade secret, is not granted security by law but rather is kept undisclosed by the owner through his or her own means.


A patent is a governmental-granted form of legal protection for anything that you invent. The range of Inventions that are covered by patent law, however, is very vague. In general, an invention is defined as "anything that provides new solutions to technical problems." This may include processes or physical entities.

Before the government gives you patent rights to your invention, you must first provide several claims indicating that your creation is both new and useful. Once you have done so, you will be given exclusive ownership rights that will be in effect for, on average, 20 years. Once the patent expires, others will be given access to your invention and therefore gain the opportunity to develop it further.


A copyright protects "literary and artistic" works from being stolen and reproduced by other parties. Some of the more common items that are typically covered under copyright law include the following:

* Books, journalistic writing, poetry, articles, and lectures
* Musical compositions
* Works of visual art
* Choreography
* Cinematography works
* Computer programs and other technological works

In order for one to obtain copyright protection, he or she must register the work with the government. Many countries worldwide define the length of protection the author's lifetime plus an additional 50 or 70 years after his or her death.


Trademarks are signs, symbols, designs, mottos, logos, or slogans that distinguish a company or business entity. These telltale marks allow consumers to immediately determine who is marketing a certain product. Trademarks can be established either through formal registration or through simple use of the sign in the public marketplace. However, to gain full protection of the trademark, one should register it with the trademarks office.

You can renew the protection period of your trademark once it expires. This allows you to have indefinite protection of the symbol or saying, if you so choose.

Contact Me
If you are interested in learning more about intellectual property, or if you are currently involved in a disagreement over intellectual property rights, then I can help. To get help from a Manhattan business attorney you can count on, contact Ellen Rothstein today by visiting
Joseph Devine

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