What is intellectual property?
Intellectual property is a product of the mind, and also refers to the category of law devoted to protecting products of the mind. These products of the mind include writing, art, software, logos, inventions, and other abstractions. They may be protected by copyright, trademark, patent, or trade secret law. The law views the intellectual property element of an item separately from the physical property element. For example, if you buy a book, you own the physical book, but you do not own the contents of the book. The author of the book owns the contents of the book, a type of intellectual property known as copyright.
What are the types of intellectual property?
Copyright protects creative works fixed in a tangible medium of expression, such as books, poems, sculptures, paintings, and recordings.
A trademark (for goods) or a service mark (for services) is something that identifies the source of a product or service. There are also certification marks, which allow an issuer to certify something about the goods or services provided by the user of the mark.
Patents protect only a very limited scope of intellectual property: inventions and discoveries that are: 1) novel; 2) non-obvious; and 3) useful.
Trade secrets can protect information and/or ideas that: 1) have actual or potential economic value if they are kept secret; 2) cannot be easily ascertained by others who are using proper means; 3) are minimally novel; and 4) are the subject of reasonable efforts to maintain them as secret.
Stay tuned for a deeper dive into what each type of intellectual property protects.