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Practice Definitions  | Intellectual Property Law

Intellectual Property Law

Intellectual Property Law image
Intellectual Property Law addresses legal issues surrounding the rights of ownership of these ideas, inventions, trade secrets, processes, programs, data, formulas, patents, copyrights, trade secrets, trade dress, service marks or trademarks, the application or registration (referred to as copyright, patent, trade dress, trade secret, trademark or intellectual property law), and the legal or illegal use of this property. The four main types of intellectual property are:


A trademark can be a logo, name, symbol, or device used to differentiate a product or service of one trader (or commercial entity) from that of another-brand identity. Example: McDonalds' golden arches. Trademark protection lasts for 10 years after registration, and is renewable.


A patent is the grant of right to exclude others from making, using, selling, or importing an invention or discovery, including new and improved products and processes. Patents can be registered in foreign countries, last for 20 years and are renewable. But, if the patent expires, the exclusive rights to make, use, sell or import the invention or discovery is lost.

Trade Secret

Trade secrets (covered by state rather than federal laws) include formulas, patterns, device or any compilation of data that gives a company a tangible advantage over its competitors (e.g., Coca Cola's formula for its soft drink).


A Copyright is protection granted to authors of original authorship such as literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, and computer software, as well as performing artists in their performances, producers of phonograms in their recordings, and broadcasters in their radio and television programs. Example: The creators of your favorite music CD, movie, or computer game have a copyright on their work. Copyrights last for the life of an author plus 50 years.

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property (IP) is the unique and un-obvious product of human intellect that has at least some marketplace value. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), intellectual property is divided into two categories: 1) Industrial Property: including inventions (patents), trademarks, industrial designs, and geographic indications of source; and 2) Copyright (Library/Artistic Property): including literary and artistic works such as novels, poems and plays, films, musical works, text and images on a World Wide Web (WWW) site, architectural designs, scientific publications, and artistic works such as drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures, as well as performing artists in their performances, producers of phonograms in their recordings, and broadcasters in their radio and television programs.
Should I hire a lawyer?
Intellectual law covers a very broad area of legal issues involving contracts, patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, trade dress and other issues. They can even include issues pertaining to Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) or Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA), as well as other Internet and other Information Technology matters as well as transactional entertainment law, which could involve such people as producers, writers, actors, musicians and directors. If you are involved with any of these issues, issues pertaining to obtaining or licensing trademarks, copyrights or other intellectual property, it is in your best interest to consult with a qualified intellectual property attorney. Use the State Lawyers Directory to find a lawyer that is best suited to your needs.
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