Know the 3 Main Types of Intellectual Property Protection

When you have a great new idea for your business, you should take the steps to protect it from theft. There are too many competitors who would leap at the opportunity to snatch a great idea from another inventor. Inventors must take the initiative to safeguard their intellectual property.

Figuring out how to adequately protect your intellectual property can be a daunting process. The best place to start is to understand the three major types of intellectual property protection. Read on to learn whether these forms of legal protection may be right for your invention.

1. Patents

If you have come up with a new invention, you may want to consider protecting it with a patent. A patent is a set of rights granted to an inventor in exchange for publicly detailing their product or idea in a patent application.

There is a certain set of standards that an invention must meet before it can be patented. In order to obtain a patent, your invention must be:

  • New
  • Original
  • Not obvious to someone who has experience in the invention’s field

Historically, inventors have obtained patents for physical inventions like machines or consumer goods. In recent years, patents have also been granted for abstract intellectual property such as business procedures or computer algorithms.

2. Trademarks

Let’s say that you have come up with a great new name for your brand, company or product. Before another company uses that name as well, you can protect it with a trademark. Be warned that trademarks often have a limited range of protection. They can typically only protect a name within a certain field. So if your tech startup trademarks a name for a product, a food company may also be able to use that name without infringing on your trademark.

3. Copyrights

If you are a creative type, perhaps you have written a blog post, designed a web page or recorded a commercial jingle. When your intellectual property is in one of these forms, it may be protected by a copyright. A copyright means that you have the exclusive right to determine how your work is used, distributed and sold. The best part about copyright law is that when you write or record something, it is generally protected by copyright law immediately unless you opt out by making it public domain.