Increased branding, marketing efforts, and strategies have led to the global expansion of businesses. Consequently, the digital marketplace has become increasingly competitive. This puts innovators and creators at risk of having their creations copied or completely stolen by competitors, who want market dominance with no alternative for recourse.
To prevent this, ideas should be considered just as valuable as physical products or services. Protecting them is equally crucial for businesses and individuals alike. Ideas fall into one of the categories of intellectual property (IP) and can therefore be subject to legal protection.
In a highly commercialized economy like Ohio, for instance, your intellectual properties must be safeguarded from infringers who can steal your IP, causing you to lose money and value from other non-monetary resources like manpower and time.
To do this, you will not only need patent attorneys Ohio has to offer, but also an understanding of the major types of intellectual property you can file an application for or register.
Types of Intellectual Property
There are five main types of intellectual property. Each of these types of IP provides different protections for different types of creations. They also have different requirements for registration and varying validity periods. These types of intellectual property include:
A patent is a legal right granted to an inventor for a new, useful, and non-obvious invention. The purpose of a patent is to protect the inventor’s exclusive rights to their invention for a certain period.
Obtaining a patent also confers on the inventor the right to grant permission through licensing to other individuals or business entities that may want to use their invention and eventually generate licensing revenue.
To obtain a patent, the invention must be novel and useful, and the inventor must also provide a detailed description of the invention and how it works. There are three main types of patents – utility patents, design patents, and plant patents.
A utility patent is the most common type of patent and protects the functionality or utility of an invention. It covers machines, processes, articles of manufacture, compositions of matter, and certain types of plants.
This type of patent is generally granted for 20 years from the date of filing, and it gives the patent owner the exclusive right to make, use, and sell the invention.
A design patent protects the ornamental or aesthetic aspects of an invention rather than its functional aspects. It covers the visual appearance or design of an object and is granted for 15 years from the date of filing.
A design patent gives the owner the exclusive right to prevent others from using or copying the appearance of the object.
A plant patent is granted to an inventor or discoverer of a new and distinct variety of asexually reproduced plants. It covers only the specific plant, not the seeds or other reproductive material.
Plant patents are granted for 20 years from the date of filing and give the owner the exclusive right to prevent others from reproducing, selling, or using the patented plant variety without permission.
A trademark is a symbol, design, word, phrase, or combination of these that identifies and distinguishes a product or service from those of others. The purpose of a trademark is to prevent confusion and protect the owner’s reputation.
Trademarks are one of the most obvious elements that go into the branding of any business. To register a trademark, the owner must file an application with the appropriate government agency, such as the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
While words can be trademarked, common or descriptive words cannot be trademarked. For example, a business in the food industry cannot trademark the word ‘food’, but the combination of this word and any other that renders it unique can be trademarked.
A copyright, on the other hand, is a legal right that protects the owner’s exclusive rights to their original creative works, such as literature, music, and art. The purpose of a copyright is to prevent others from using, selling, or reproducing the work without permission.
Copyright law oversees the protection of the original works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible medium of expression, such as a book, recording, or painting.
Unlike the other types of intellectual property, copyright protection and/or rights is automatic. These rights take effect as soon as the work is created and put in a tangible medium. However, registering the work with the U.S. The Copyright Office provides additional legal benefits, especially if there is a case of copyright infringement.
4. Trade secrets
A trade secret is confidential information that gives a business a competitive advantage, such as formulas, processes, and customer lists. The purpose of a trade secret is to prevent others from using or disclosing the information without permission.
There are many forms of information on a business that can be classified as a trade secret. They include technical information on the operations of the business and/or its business model, financial information, and even marketing information.
Protecting trade secrets requires the adoption of reasonable measures to keep the information confidential, such as requiring employees to sign nondisclosure agreements or contractors to sign confidential agreements.
5. Industrial design rights
Industrial design rights protect the visual appearance of a product, such as shape, color, and texture. The purpose of industrial design rights is to prevent others from copying the design of a product without permission and to provide exclusive rights to the designer.
Industrial design rights protect the non-functional aspects of a product’s design. These rights can be obtained through registration with the appropriate government agency, such as the USPTO.
Seeking legal advice and assistance can help ensure that your intellectual property is properly protected and that you are taking the necessary steps to prevent infringement. IP protection is critical for promoting innovation, creativity, and economic growth.
Understanding the various types of IP and the protections they provide is important for individuals and businesses as it gets them started on the right path to securing their intellectual property.
Also, for the intellectual property types that require a lot of research and development, knowing the class it falls under and how to go about its protection empowers you with the right knowledge to go about the process of getting recognition and legal rights for your creation.