Intellectual property (“IP”) can be one of the most valuable assets to any startups or growing companies, whether it is the customer goodwill associated with a trademark and brand, or a copyright over some original works of authorship. IP refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce. IP rights are like any other property right. They allow creators, or owners, of patents, trademarks or copyrighted works to benefit from their own work or investment in a creation. Article I, Section 8, Clause 8, of the United States Constitution grants Congress the enumerated power “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” Traditionally, IP is comprised of four categories, copyright, trademark, patent and trade secrets.
One of the important Intellectual property is Copyright. Copyright is a legal term used to describe the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. Works covered by copyright range from books, music, paintings, sculpture and films, to computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps and technical drawings. Copyright law grants the owner of the copyright certain exclusive rights to protect the original works of authorship, such as books, films, and music. In the United States, federal copyright law protects a wide range of works, including–but not limited to–literary works; musical works and lyrics; dramatic works; pantomimes and choreographic works; pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works; motion pictures and other audiovisual works; sound recordings; architectural works; and computer programs. Federal copyright law is set forth in Title 17 of the U.S. Code. Copyright law protects only the original expression set forth in those works, however, and not the underlying ideas, procedures, processes, systems, methods of operation, concepts, principles, and discoveries themselves.
One of the important Intellectual property is Trademark. A trademark is a word, a symbol, a combination of words and symbols, three-dimensional features such as the shape and packaging of goods, or non-visible signs such as sounds or fragrances, or color shades, which are used as distinguishing features to be placed on or associated with goods and services and used to identify those goods or services. When a symbol, picture, or other design is used as a trademark, it is often referred to as a “logo” or as the “brand.” A trademark informs the consumer that the product comes from a particular source and guarantees that the quality of the product will be the same as that of other products sold under that trademark. In the United States, trademark rights arise from use of the trademark in commerce and registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) is not required. However, significant benefits arise from registering a trademark with the USPTO. Trademarks are governed both by common law and Title 15 of the U.S. Code. Trademark laws confer an exclusive right to use the trademark to trademark owners and allow trademark owners to license the right to use their trademarks to other parties in return for payment.
Other important Intellectual property is Patent. A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention. Patent laws protect original, novel, and useful inventions. Generally speaking, a patent provides the patent owner with the right to exclude others from, among other things, making, using, or selling an invention that is claimed in the patent. In exchange for this right, the patent owner makes technical information about the invention publicly available in the published patent document.