Intellectual Property

What is it and How Can You Protect It?

Intellectual property is something that you own (your property), which you create with your own mind—your intellect.  It is an intangible ownership interest, not like tangible property, such as real estate.  You have 5 distinctly different types of property rights, but they all protect your intellectual property. We’ve covered Copyright Law and Trademark Law on previous pages.

Here’s a quick overview of additional areas pertaining to Intellectual Property Law and what each right protects and links to learn more about the legal services Francine provides.

 

PATENT LAW

A property right granted to the inventor of a new or useful invention or improvement to an existing invention.  Patent protection allows the inventor to exclude anyone from making, using, or selling the item.  Examples of items protected by patent are pharmaceuticals, software, plant strains, formulas, & technology products.

 

TRADE SECRET LAW

Any confidential information about a product or service, which gives someone an economic advantage over their competitors.  An example of a trade secret is the formula for Coca-Cola. Know one, except those with a need to know, knows what it is. One major distinction between a trade secret and a patent is that the patent application requires the extensive disclosure of information, so nothing is secret. A trade secret, on the other hand, allows the owner of the trade secret to maintain the secrecy of their proprietary information. Several years ago, Microsoft did what some thought to be an unthinkable act–it changed its business model to become more of an open-source company, whereby converting some of its trade secrets to patents. A business judgment decision every company gets to make.

 

RIGHT OF PUBLICITY LAW

A right granted to an individual to control and profit from the commercial use of their name, image, likeness, or persona (identity).  This means you can make money from your own image. What you cannot do is make money by exploiting someone else’s image, without their permission. One way this arises is at conferences where meeting want to videotape celebrity keynoters, or where speakers want to videotape their audience members.  In order to do so, you absolutely must get there permission.

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