No matter what industry you are in, you must have good ideas in order for your business to survive. You should also know how to protect your ideas in case a competitor tries to use them.
From logos to web design to products, anything you come up with is your intellectual property. However, the law will not treat each item equally. It helps to understand the different types of intellectual property and what the terms are for each.
A copyright is an original idea that you put forth through a clear-cut medium. The idea could be artistic, such as a song or illustration, or it could be purely technical, such as a software code. By registering your idea through the U.S. Copyright Office, you can keep other businesses from using it.
The purpose of a trademark is to differentiate your goods, services and sources from those of similar businesses. Your company name and logo are examples of this type of intellectual property. You can register your trademark through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to keep it out of your competitors’ hands.
A patent is an original invention that you use for technical purposes. Electronic devices, food recipes and medications are all patentable ideas. Like with trademarks, you can go through the USPTO to protect a patent. You can keep the patent for a certain amount of time, which is usually 20 years.
The last thing you want is for someone else to steal an idea that you have worked hard on. By understanding how intellectual property works and following the right steps, you can keep your ideas where they belong: with your business.