Intellectual property (IP) law deals with the intangible—the legal right to creations of your mind. Your IP could be almost anything! Some examples include mechanical inventions, clever branding, secret recipes, or works of art.
Types of Intellectual Property
There are four main types of IP: copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. They are each governed by different statutes, and as such, each offer different rights and protections to the owner.
Copyrights protect original works of authorship. Copyright protection can cover:
- Literary works such as books, poetry, manuals, brochures
- Artistic works such as paintings, designs, sculptures, drawings, photographs, fixtures
- Performance works such as movies, plays, musicals, poetry readings
- Computer works such as websites, video games, computer programs, database, online education content
- Choreographies such as dance, pantomimes, cheerleading cheers, parade marches, concerts, music videos
- Scientific works such as journals, lectures, theories, methodologies
- Music such as songs, lyrics, melodies
Copyright law prohibits others from reproducing your work. You are not required to formally register a copyright to receive protection. However, if you do, it will be strong evidence that the work belongs to you, and it will allow you to collect damages and attorney’s fees upon a finding of infringement. A copyright lasts for the duration of the author’s life and an additional 75 years.
Patents protect inventions. No one can produce, sell, import, or distribute a patented invention without the consent of the patent owner. Generally, term of a patent in the United States is 20 years from the initial filing date. The different kinds of patents that you may file for are:
- Utility patent – covers machines, methods, processes, compositions, and others that are useful and used for specific functions
- Design patent – protects the designs of your inventions including its ornamental designs, appearance, and shape.
- Plant patent – protects a new and unique plant’s characteristics
In exchange for public disclosure of the patented invention, the inventor gets exclusive rights to the invention during the term of the patent.
To obtain a patent, you must first file an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The application with be reviewed by a USPTO examiner, who will determine whether or not your application meets the requirements for a patent grant.
Trademarks are designs, words, lettering, or symbols that represent a company or product that distinguishes the company from others. Similar to copyrights, a trademark is not required to be registered. However, federal registration creates a presumptive claim of ownership and gives the registrant the benefit of nationwide priority. Unlike patents and copyrights, trademarks can last indefinitely, but they must be renewed regularly.
To register a trademark, it is best to first consult with a trademark attorney about your mark. The attorney will perform a search for identical or confusingly similar marks, and if your mark clears this hurdle, the attorney will then file a trademark application on your behalf.
What can War IP Law provide?
Intellectual property law was first enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, but the specific laws do change periodically. Enforcement became more challenging in this digital age. War IP Law has experienced IP lawyers who are knowledgeable when it comes to patent rights, copyright and trademark, and other intellectual property issues. We will help our clients harness the laws effectively to meet their needs and objectives, and represent you in the court of law and other legal proceedings. Call us now for a free legal consultation.