How to Protect Your Intellectual Property: Trademarks vs. Patents vs. Copyrights

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How to Protect Your Intellectual Property: Trademarks vs. Patents vs. Copyrights | In a world where information is accessible to us 24/7, it’s important to ensure that the content you share cannot be stolen or plagiarized. Whether you’re a creative, an entrepreneur, or just someone with an inspiring idea, protecting your intellectual property is crucial, now more than ever. Read on for tips on how to keep your intellectual property as safe as possible.

What Defines Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property is any piece of work resulting from the creative process in one’s own mind. We have an inherent claim to our intellectual property, just like any other tangible form of property, such as our possessions.

Intellectual property can come in many different forms. Artists can claim intellectual property through their music, paintings, or other creations. Business leaders’ intellectual property usually comes in the form of company names, logos, and other aspects that are unique to that person’s business.

3 Ways to Protect Your Intellectual Property

There are many ways to legally protect your intellectual property from being stolen or used without your consent. The three most common are the following: 

  • Trademark: These are commonly used to protect phrases and graphic designs. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office handles trademark registration, but you may also want to employ an attorney in case of any issues.  
  • Patent: Patents protect inventions, procedures, and other factors unique to inventors. Patent lawyers are important to the process of securing a patent, which can present many roadblocks for new inventors.
  • Copyright: Artists employ copyrights to protect their original works, including manuscripts, visual art, and musical compositions. Copyrights are generally simple to file and can apply to any specific art forms like architecture and websites. 

When Are Your Intellectual Property Rights Being Violated?

It’s important to know where the line is between someone stealing your intellectual property and someone drawing inspiration from your work. This line can be difficult to identify, depending on whether the work is online, in an artistic space, or within the corporate world.

Generally, one of the only acceptable instances of using someone else’s ideas or creations in your own work is if it falls under the “fair use” exception. Fair use includes parody, reporting the news, research, and other instances where someone’s work is not used in large amounts or for commercial purposes.

Always be sure to amend any unlawful use of someone else’s intellectual property as soon as possible, as there can be serious financial repercussions. If you don’t feel that someone’s infringement claim against you is justified, there are ways to dispute it as long as you don’t completely ignore the conflict.

Once you understand the value of intellectual property and how to protect yours, you’ll be prepared to enter any professional or artistic space ethically. For an even more comprehensive guide on intellectual property rights, explore the following visual from LegalZoom.

Please include attribution to LegalZoom.com with this graphic.

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