Don’t get confused with types of Intellectual Property Protection
Intellectual Property is an intangible asset that leaders of growing companies and entrepreneurs need to clearly understand. Today every business needs one or the other kind of IP protection and the choice of a correct kind of protection is very important. Some businesses would need multiple types of protection while the other may need just one type of protection. Deciding what would work best for you is important because a wrong kind of IP protection is as good as no protection. You would have heard people say trademark this invention, copyright this idea, or patent this logo, but as a matter of fact none of these are possible. So let’s see what are the possibilities available to you.
What are the various types of intellectual property protection available?
The selection of correct protection depends on the material you want to protect. For e.g. you may trademark a logo or patent an invention. Following is an explanation of the types of protection available:
Patents: Patents are considered to be the strongest type of protection available. They can be granted for an apparatus or a method provided it is useful, novel, and non-obvious. Patents allow you to exclude others from practicing your invention for a period of 20 years. A granted patent can be enforced on anyone who infringes and the courts help you enforce a patent. Patents are also issued for Designs and have a protection period of 14 years. Companies worldwide try to patent their inventions and then earn royalty on the protection. Important point to note is that patents are jurisdiction specific and can only be enforced in jurisdictions where you have got the patent registered. Also, patents being the strongest type of protection are most time consuming and expensive.
Trademarks: Trademarks are granted word, symbol, or a name that is used to identify a service or goods. They only protect the identity and not the underlined invention or creative work. Registering a trademark is less time consuming and less expensive than a patent but takes more time and money than a copyright protection. Though some protection for trademark is automatically granted as soon as the mark is used, but it is advisable to register the trademark with the national registering authority. A registered trademark can be enforced and the judicial courts help enforce registered marks in case they are infringed.
Copyrights: Copyright protection is for a novel and original piece of work. Copyrights are granted for writings and other forms of expression and protect from unauthorized copying, re-production, and distribution. It does not protect the idea but protects the expression on an idea. They are the easiest and least expensive to obtain. © is the universal mark for copyright protection. This right lasts till the person is alive and for 70 years thereafter. Though some protection for copyright protection is automatically created, but it is advisable to register the copyright with the national registering authority.
Trade Secrets: Trade Secrets are considered to be most delicate type of intellectual property protection. An example of a trade secret is Colonel Sanders recipe for fried chicken or formula for Coca-Cola. There are no legal procedures to register a trade secret. They can only be protected by signing non-disclosure agreements with vendors and employees and these agreements are enforceable. They last forever but are lost as soon as they become public.
To conclude, it is important to understand the differences in the protection available and to go for the correct type of protection. Best is to do some background research before selecting the protection or take help from firms that provide intellectual property registration services.