A natural fear of artists and inventors is protecting the integrity of their work. The Internet has drastically changed the way material is distributed and has made protecting intellectual property more difficult. If you feel it is important to protect your intellectual property, then you might as well go the whole nine yards and utilize the skills of experienced intellectual property legal services. Intellectual property law protects creative works from being pirated and has four basic categories: copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets.
Copyrights are used to protect original works of authorship and copyright law gives the author/owner of a work the right to control the reproduction, distribution, adaptation, public display, and translations. All current copyright laws and regulations in the United States are rooted in the federal Copyright Act of 1976. It is important to note that copyrights do not protect ideas; patents protect ideas.
Patents are used to protect new and useful machines, articles, substances, or processes through exclusive rights granted to the inventor(s) by the federal government. Most patents last for 20 years from the date the application was filed and in order to obtain an invention patent you must apply for a patent with the federal government via the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Drafting a successful patent application requires a solid understanding of both patent law and the technology that is being described and claimed. It is in your best interest to get legal assistance from an experienced patent attorney when preparing your application.
Trademarks are used to distinguish something as uniquely yours or your company’s and a corporate logo is one of the most common things to trademark. By registering something as a trademark, you explicitly forbid other people and organizations from using it. The United States Patent and Trademark Office provides useful information on registering a trademark. Trademark infringement is a serious matter and an experienced trademark attorney can help you in discerning whether or not trademark infringement is taking place.
Trade Secrets include formulas, patterns, processes, and compilations of information that are not generally known by others. Trade secrets are not protected by intellectual property law in the same way as trademarks or patents, as trademarks and patents are protected under federal statutes whereas trade secrets are protected under state laws. Examples of trade secrets include recipes, marketing strategies, and computer algorithms.
Due to the vast gray areas involved in intellectual property law, it is in your best interest to work with a competent attorney who specializes in this type of law.