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Understanding the types of intellectual property

Some ideas can give way to producing a product or service that amasses great revenue. However, if individuals are not careful to protect their intellectual property, other entities may try to profit off of them.

There are three main types of intellectual property. Understanding these may better equip entrepreneurs to protect their developments.

Trademark

A trademark provides an entity with legal ownership of an identifying marker that is attributed to a product or service which the entity owns. Common markers include:

  • Slogans
  • Images
  • Products
  • Words

The trademark helps consumers to differentiate between different companies that may provide the same product or service. Should a company decide to change or update a trademark, it may be possible to make alterations under the set trademark, or the party may have to file a new application.

Copyright

A copyright is a common type of protection for intellectual properties such as books, music and movies. However, it is broader than that; a copyright can cover various types of original work, both tangible and intangible. It allows the originator to maintain ownership of the medium and prevent others from reproducing it without permission.

Patent

A patent covers improvements or modifications to a product that is already in existence. This does not give a party rights to the original product, only the changes that the party makes to the product. This can sometimes be a bit difficult to determine and implement. For that reason, the United States Patent Office must grant a patent in order for it to become binding and legal.

When individuals have the appropriate protection in place, it makes it easier to identify when others do not follow proper protocol or do not acknowledge the rights and regulations for intellectual property. A business owner who believes that a party is infringing upon his or her intellectual property should speak with a knowledgeable professional to determine the best course of action.

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