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What you need to know about intellectual property, patents, and trademarks

by | Feb 16, 2022 | Patent Law, Trademark Law

In today’s digital world, intellectual property is a complicated topic. It can be hard to determine what belongs to whom. It is especially challenging if there’s no registered patent or trademark.

What is intellectual property?

Intellectual property refers to original inventive, creative, literary, or artistic work. While a patent can protect a physical thing, intellectual property itself is always intangible. As an originator/creator/inventor,  you may be able to obtain intellectual property protection for inventions, trademarks, designs, creative works, and trade secrets.

What is the purpose of intellectual property?

The purpose of intellectual property is to protect creativity and innovation from others who may try to claim and benefit from your original idea. Intellectual property offers exclusive rights to your creations. For example, a writer and copyright owner generally has the rights to:

  • Recreate the creative work
  • Create other works from the original piece or adapt in other forms
  • Display the work publicly
  • Sell the work
  • Perform the work publicly

You can also license the creative work for sale by others. In this example, a writer can give the right to license an audiobook or movie from the original written piece of work.

Patents and trademarks

When an inventor develops an innovative idea, or comes up with a word or slogan to represent a new product or services, patents and trademarks are two ways to protect intellectual property:

  • Patents: For inventions and the discovery of innovative machines, processes, manufactured products and compositions of matter.
  • Trademarks: For unique words, symbols, names, or a combination of these ideas. A trademark should differentiate services or goods from others.


How do I obtain a patent or trademark?

Patent and trademark law are, unfortunately, quite complex. However, it is essential to protect your original work to prevent others from stealing and benefiting from them. Applicants who wish to protect their intellectual property can work with an IP attorney to file a patent or trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.