It is vital that you as an entrepreneur or business owner understand your rights when it comes to intellectual property. From patents to trademarks, from trade secrets to copyrights, make sure you’re covered economically for your creations.
An intellectual property lawyer can assist you in the planning and executing of your creative ideas so that you can avoid theft from others. The four main categories of intellectual property are: patents, trademarks, trade secrets and copyrights.
A patent gives you the legal protection over an invention; it gives you the right to take action against anyone who might copy, use, sell or import without your permission. In order to qualify for a patent, the invention must be new, something physical that can be made or used and inventive (no modifications to existing products).
Less tangible creations such as literary works, a way of thinking, scientific theories etc. cannot be patented but your intellectual property solicitor will be able to advise on a different form of protection.
A trademark is a form of intellectual property that consists of a recognisable design or phrase that identifies your product or company. Using a trademark allows you to distinguish yourself from competitors.
It is important that before applying for a trademark you check the competition to ensure you have the best chance of being approved and more importantly, being unique.
A trade secret runs along the same tandem as patents. When an invention doesn’t qualify to be patented or when a company doesn’t want to disclose it to the public, they can use a trade secret protected under the law of confidence.
Examples of trade secrets include the Coca Cola recipe, computer algorithms and customer lists.
Copyright is a legal term to describe the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. It includes authorship of: literary, music, choreographic, sculptural, sound recording, architectural works and more.
Copyright stops others using your work without your permission. Simply mark your work with the copyright symbol © your name and year of creation. However, even if you don’t mark your work, your level of protection stays the same.