Intellectual Property – General
Wikipedia defines Intellectual Property as: “a term referring to a number of distinct types of creations of the mind for which property rights are recognized – and the corresponding fields of law.” Well, more simply put, you had that brilliant idea and now you want to make sure that nobody else can legally steal it from you. As you can imagine, lots of legal minds have spent innumerable hours and client money trying to protect those “creations of the mind” with varying degrees of success. Your goal should be to understand, on the most basic level, what protections are available to you and which ones make sense for your business and budget. The most common of these protections include confidentiality, patents, copyright, trade secret and trademarks/service marks. Protection in this global environment is, of course, not a simple path and may involve US federal and state law as well as the laws of the countries where your products are made available. When you start thinking about protection focus on these basic questions: (i) what do you want to protect; (ii) what do you want this protection to prohibit others from doing; (iii) what do you need to do to get your protection; (iv) what is the geographic coverage of your protection; and (v) what is the duration of your protection. As I’ve stated in this journal before, and you will hear again, the Internet is an excellent resource for finding basic information on the protections available. Google “comparison charts for patents, trade secrets, copyright and trademark” and see what pops up.
Next installment, Intellectual Property – Confidentiality, and remember, ALWAYS CONSULT AN ATTORNEY FIRST.