Copyrights, Trademarks, Patents: A Quick Reference Guide to Intellectual Property

What is intellectual property? Intellectual property (otherwise known as IP) are the legal property rights that a person or company has over creations.  Under IP law, owners are given certain exclusive rights over things such as ideas, discoveries, literary/musical and artistic works and inventions.  It also protects phrases, certain symbols and designs. Common types of intellectual property include copyrights, trademarks and patents even trade secrets.

Copyright - protects anything that is artistic in nature.  This includes books, movies, music, photographs and software.

Trademarks - these are distictive designs/symbols and/or phrases that make a company or person distinctive in the marketplace for example "just do it" is the trademark of Nike.

Patents -  A patent may be obtained for a new invention (that serves some purpose). It gives the holder certain rights that they can exercise to stop others from practicing the invention without a license and/or permission from the inventor for a certain period of time.

Industrial rights - these cover the design, form or appearance of a certain industrial object from being illegally copied (this is known as industrial design right).  It also covers trade secrets which is information that is non-public that covers any commercial practices.  Disclosing these can sometimes lead to prosecution.

Although there is still some dispute, research has shown that the implementation of a strong IP system has had a positive effect on economic growth.  However, just because there is a link does not necessarily mean that it was the cause of this growth.  Like many things, more research needs to be done in this area.  However, it is important to add that had certain things not been invented (like vaccines), the world would be in a worse state.  However, the debate continues on for example in the area of nuclear power, weapons, etc etc.

For more information, please refer to  I know it is the UK but the universal principles still apply.  If you want to discuss this in more detail, feel free to leave a comment or contact me.

Take care and God bless readers...


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