How to Protect Your Intellectual Property

Business Law, Corporate, Northbrook Attorney

If you have created something from an original idea that has economic value or prospects for profitability, it is important that you protect your intellectual property from anyone else that may want to use it. The law makes provision for this, so whether you are an artist, inventor, or writer, your work is worthy of legal protection. If you believe your IP has been stolen, contact us here to take action. If someone has accused you of stealing their intellectual property, we can also help defend you. 

Intellectual Property Protection 

There are four primary categories of intellectual property protection which are patents, trademarks, copyright, and trade secrets. Each type of protection is distinct, and choosing the one that best fits your needs may be a little complex. For example, a software programmer needs more than a copyright/patent for their algorithms; they also need a trademark if they will be marketing it. This is why consulting an intellectual property lawyer is essential. Getting one will put your mind at ease about the safety of your creative work. 

What are Patents?

A patent is a protection given by law to a person who has invented a product/process. This prevents anyone else from making or selling that invention for some time. This is to say that patents are limited. For you to file for a patent on your invention, it must be new and not similar to anything that currently exists. 

What are Trademarks? 

Your trademark protects the unique identification of your product. It is usually this that calls to your customers and makes sure they recognize your brand. This means you can trademark any material that identifies your brand, be it a word, phrase, slogan, logo, or any such material. This is why you cannot trademark a material that is not yours or too similar to another’s. Your trademark protects you infinitely if you work in commerce, but it has to be renewed every decade. It is an essential intellectual property protection class. 

What is a Copyright? 

Ideas in themselves cannot be protected, but the expression of an idea in tangible forms, such as writing or art, can. Things like sound recordings, sculptures, manuscripts, and paintings can be copyrighted. 

Copyright allows your original expression (in tangible form) to be protected in your lifetime and decades after, such that you can sue anyone who tries to plagiarize.  

In the United States, you automatically have a copyright once you create tangible original material. However, this is not enough to safeguard you if your creation is infringed on. This is why it is advised that you register for a copyright. Registration ensures that your rights to your IP are as exclusive and extended as possible. This way, you can fight infringement through a court process and even file for compensation in monetary form. 

What are Trade Secrets?

A trade secret is information that sets you at an economic advantage and, as such, needs to be protected from being public knowledge or stolen by a competitor. A formula, a technique, a recipe, or a code can be a trade secret. 

It is important to note that trade secrets do not constitute official protection as they are not public or filed with an office like all of the above are. However, with evidence that you made efforts to hold and protect the trade secret, any theft of it is punishable in court. A person who infringes may be charged with corporate espionage, a federal offense. 

The law provides protection for your intellectual property, and we can help solidify this and make a case for you if anyone infringes. Our business attorneys can help you ascertain which forms of intellectual property protection are best for you. Schedule a consultation here.