Intellectual Property Law FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What Is The Legal Definition Of Intellectual Property?

IP (Intellectual property) is essentially an intangible creation that is translated or expressed into a more tangible form. This is assigned specific rights of property. Some examples of IP include- a logo design that represents a company which manufactures soft drinks and other products or the copyright that an author has for their article or book. It can also include a website’s unique design elements or even a patent for a particular process, such as the manufacture of a candy.

IP law covers the protection of trade secrets, copyrights, patents, and trademarks, and various legal areas including unfair competition. It means that intellectual property laws give creators of any unique, new idea or product a temporary monopoly on its usage.

The value of IP to a company or individual isn’t based just on the physical properties like structure or even size. However Intellectual Property is very valuable because it is a representation of exclusive rights to manufacture, reproduce, promote or use a unique idea or creation. In this context, it has the potential to be an extremely valuable assets that a small business or even an individual can own.


  1. What Are The 4 Types Of Intellectual Property?

In order to protect your idea so that no one can steal it, you can use one of four different types of IP (Intellectual Property). A trade secret is the first type of IP. All inventions typically start out as the inventor’s trade secret. Every inventor has an instinctual desire to ensure their ideas are keep secret. In order to be able to market an invention, you need to protect the idea with one/more other types of IP rights such as copyrights, trademarks or patents.

Your brand needs proper protection because you don’t want to invest money and your precious time only to find out that you have to use a different trademark because your trademark is already being used by someone else. In this case, you’d be infringing on that individual’s trademark and would need to use a different one.

Most products have copyrights. The words & images on the label, the product packaging, as well as the product itself and the website can all have copyright protection. The benefits of a copyright registration are that you can secure this in a cost-effective manner and can also demand lawyer fees from people that infringe your copyright. You can secure utility and/or design patents to effectively protect your invention. 


  1. What Is Considered Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property typically refers to literary and artistic works, images, symbols and names used in commerce or even inventions. IP is divided into two distinct categories:

  • Copyright – This covers literary works including plays, poems and novels, music, artistic works such as photographs, paintings and drawings or even sculptures and architectural design.
  • Industrial Property – This includes patents for trademarks, inventions, geographical indications and industrial designs.

The rights related to a copyright include- broadcasters in their radio and TV programs and performing artists in their various performances. They also include producers of phonograms and the recordings. IP rights are just like all other property rights. They allow owners/creators of copyrighted works, patents, or trademarks to benefit from their investment or own work in a creation.

IP rights reward human endeavor and creativity which catalyze the progress of humankind.The intellectual property concept relates to the fact that some products of the human intellect should be covered with the same kind of protective rights that are applicable to any physical property. In a developed economy, there will always be appropriate measures in place to provide protection to both forms of property.


  1. How Do You Get Into Intellectual Property Law?

 Intellectual Property attorneys help clients protect their products or ideas from being used by any third party. This involves good knowledge of as well as the application of laws governing trade secrets, copyrights, patents, and trademarks.

The other duties of an IP lawyer might include researching laws that need to be referenced in legal documents, writing legal documents, negotiating settlements as well as arguing a client’s case in court. These are the steps you need to follow in order to get into Intellectual Property Law:

  • Complete your Undergraduate Degree Program
  • Take the LSAT
  • Graduate from Law School-In order to get a license, every state requires that the individuals clear the bar exam and the professional responsibility exam.
  • They are also required to be admitted to the state’s bar association. The content and overall format of each state’s bar exam is different. However, it might include multiple tests that cover both national and state laws. The questions may be in an essay format or multiple choice.
  • Take the US Patent and Trademark Office Exam-Many IP attorneys are required to interact with the USPTO. And in order to do so, they are required to be on the Office’s registry. To get this registration, a licensed attorney has to apply &provide evidence that they have an undergraduate degree in an approved study field. They are also required to pass an exam.
  • Gain experience as an Intellectual Property Attorney- Private companies, national laboratories and law firm shire IP lawyers to assist them with various protections and patents inventions require. Most employers will ask for 2-3 years of experience.

These are the basic steps to follow and education you need if you want to get into Intellectual Property law.


  1. What Are Examples Of Intellectual Property?

You should consider familiarizing yourself with the types of intellectual property if you are a business owner. Many entrepreneurs do not know how to protect their inventions and ideas and do not know where to begin with the process. Here are the four types of IP:

  • Copyrights- Copyrighting all your work as well as your website can protect it. People will contact you and take your permission before using any of the information on it. Copyrighting a company or product gives you exclusive rights to them. It means that if anyone uses it without your permission you can file a lawsuit in federal court.
  • Patents-Before sharing any of your products or ideas with the world, getting them patented will protect them from illegal use.
  • Trademarks-Trademarks should be registered at a local or national government office that is responsible for trademark registration. To keep your IP protected a registered trademark has to be renewed at regular intervals to keep it alive.
  • Trade Secrets- Keep your trade secrets protected at all times. Keep all your employees at a need to know basis only. Ensure that no employee has any access to client files if they are terminated.

All of these are examples of intellectual property and all of them can be protected under various laws.


  1. What Are The 4 Types Of Intellectual Property?

As IPs are not physical objects safes, locks or security services are of no use. The best way to protect these is to turn to IP protection laws. Immaterial goods in different categories fall under different types of intellectual property protection. Trademarks, patents, copyrights and trade secrets are the most common. Here is a closer look at them.

  • Patent- this is a protected document that certifies the exclusive rights and authorship of an invention to you. It is granted for a limited time to the inventor by the governmental executive authority on intellectual property. 
  • Trademark- This is a sign that represents any product or service of a particular manufacturer. A trademark lets customers instantly identify a company by looking at it. This makes it important for every company to have one. It also helps customers distinguish the company from other companies. 
  • Copyright- This is a term that grants exclusive legal rights to its creators for different works like: songs & music, drawings, painting, writing works, sculptures, photos, films, web content, computer software, architectural works etc. 
  • Trade secret- This is primarily valuable information that hasn’t been made public but can that be of economic benefit to an organization. 

As mentioned these are the commonest types of Intellectual Property covered by the law.


  1. What Is The Purpose Of Intellectual Property?

 It is a category which includes intangible creations of human intellect. Intellectual property includes two different types of rights- the industrial property rights category includes trademarks, copyrights, designations of origins, patents, models and industrial designs. The term ‘intellectual property’ started being used in the 19th century and only became commonplace in the 20th century.

Encouraging the creation of a large variety of goods is the primary purpose of intellectual property law. This law provides businesses and people protection to the information and intellectual goods that they create. It allows them to profit from the information that they create and gives them economic incentive. These inventions are expected to raise the levels innovation and also contribute to technological advances of countries. It directly depends on the level of protection innovators are granted.

Intellectual properties present difficulties because of their intangible nature when compared to traditional properties like goods or land. Intellectual property is ‘indivisible’ unlike traditional property, which means a number of people can consume these intellectual goods without them ever being depleted. The primary focus of the modern intellectual property law is to manage the balance of rights to encourage people to create new intellectual properties but not strong enough to prevent these goods from wide use by the masses.


  1. Who Protects Intellectual Property?

 A number of rules have been implemented to secure intellectual property laws. They provide legal rights for designs, inventions and artistic works. They not only protect ownership of personal property or real estate but also exclusive control of all intangible assets. Incentivizing people to develop creations that benefit the society is the primary reason why these laws have been implemented. It ensures that people can profit from their work without the fear of misappropriation by others.

Unauthorized use of one’s property is called infringement. People should take steps and put on notice that their rights do exist. This will protect them from infringement. Owner’s right are much more visible to those who might end up violating them and putting their rights on notice will help deter infringement. Legal benefits are also provided which ensure that an owner can prosecute an infringement case in court.

The rights to intellectual property can be enforced in a Federal court. Before doing so, the owner must take the advice of an attorney and consider if litigation works in their best interests. There are chances that once held in the scrutiny of a court proceeding, the owners’ rights may be revealed as invalid. Infringement cases are expensive and that’s why they have to be handled carefully.


  1. What US Law Protects Intellectual Property?

The intellectual property law can be looked upon as analogous to the law of a tangible property. This is because both are made up of various rights conferred upon the owner of the property.  However, the law that protects IP is distinct and separate from the law that covers tangible property. In the latter, the exclusive possession right is at the core of the overall bundle of rights protecting personal & real property, chattels and land. But

The law that protects IP incentivizes inventors & authors to produce works that will benefit of the public. The law regulates the public’s use of the works in order to ensure that the inventors and authors are compensated for the efforts they have put in. Congress has the power to regulate patents & copyrights from the Constitution’s “intellectual property clause”.

The U.S. PTO (Patent and Trademark Office) is responsible for issuing as well as monitoring all federally registered trademarks and patents.  Although federal law exclusively governs all patents, trademarks might also be regulated by the State law. Federal law exclusively regulates copyrights. In order to be enforceable, they have to be registered with the United States Copyright Office Trade secrets are typically regulated by State level law. They are conventionally subject to the laws related to unfair competition.


  1. How Do I Protect My Intellectual Property?

 People work hard to develop intellectual property, which is why they want to make sure that no one can use it without their permission, for profit. Most IP rights are automatic, but it is still up to you to protect your work. Different means are used to protect different types of intellectual property.

Patents are available for people that invent or discover any works, machines or compose matter. Patent protection is offered through an application that has to be submitted to the USPTO. Trademarks protect sounds, symbols, words, names that distinguish goods from others. They indicate a source for the manufactured goods.

Copyrights protect the original works that are either published or unpublished such as music, literature or other works. The Copyright Office handles all copyright registrations. While it isn’t required for protection, it does offer certain advantages. The law that protects your IP will be dependent on the nature of the property. The right kind of protection will helps ensure that your Intellectual Property isn’t used without your express permission by any individual.

  1. Does My Employer Own My Intellectual Property?

When you work in an office, does the employer have the sole ownership of all that you create or produce? For example, what happens to ownership if you are using your own laptop or desktop to develop some hardware? The ownership of intellectual property rights depends upon the situation.

As a basic principle, whatever is created on the job or during employment becomes the intellectual property of the employer. The employee can claim the ownership of the intellectual property if it has been created outside the course of employment.

How Is The Course Of Employment Defined?

 When you are required to generate intellectual property as a part of your job responsibilities, it is called in the course of employment. To elaborate this point, think of a situation where you are given the task of developing a particular manufacturing process or creating a detection method to fix certain data problems in a software.

Its final product will be the result of working on that job and the intellectual property will belong to the employer for whom you are working. If this work is not a part of your job responsibility and you have not created it in the course of the work and have not utilized the resources of the employer, then it will be your own intellectual property.


  1. What Is Unauthorized Use Of Intellectual Property?

The human mind and brain are the sources that create intellectual property (IP). These creations take various informs from works of literature, musical compositions, pieces of art, various designs from fashion to architecture as well as logos, symbols, images used in business.

Intellectual property is classified into four major groups, namely copyrights, trademark, trade secrets and patents. Intellectual property is exclusively owned by its creator and is protected against any unauthorized use.

Theft of Intellectual Property

Intellectual property (IP) theft takes place when someone utilizes your IP for some reason without your express permission. Laws protect IP rights, including, copyrights, trademarks and patents. If you have the proper protections, you can sue for money damages.

Though IP is protected, its theft is easy as also very profitable. IP thieves are on look out for creative ideas that are in demand, pick them up for use or sale and benefit from it.When IP rights of copyright, patents and trademarks are stolen or violated, it is known as “infringement”. In case of trade secrets, it is called “misappropriation”. Further, it may be treated as a civil or criminal issue, depending on the nature of the case. Today, the intellectual properties industry accounts for billions of dollars. In 2011, counterfeit trademark and copyright related works alone were a $ 600 billion industry sharing 7% of world trade.


  1. What Protects Intellectual Property?

When we talk of protecting intellectual property(IP), we are essentially referring to protecting a variety of creations such as art works, literary pieces, scientific and other inventions, technology innovations, place specific names of goods, images, symbols etc.

It is important to learn to safeguard intellectual property by use of trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets and patents. Industry owners and entrepreneurs need to learn some fundamental aspects about IP, the laws surrounding it and how to use them to protect their valuable creations, innovations, ideas from competition.

Intellectual property lawyers specialize in various aspects of IP. They can be of assistance in suggesting measures to protect intellectual property such as patentable innovations, concepts, new processes created by your company and avoiding their theft. IP filing requires expertise to ensure correct filing and avoiding refiling. This can save your financial resources and avoid wastage of time.

You need to categorize your IP that needs to be protected and the kind of protection option. Once an idea or invention reaches the final stage, file it without loss of time to derive maximum benefit from the protection. It is important to investigate international patents as well as ones in the United States to ensure that the same or similar patent is not filed by others. You need an IP strategy for your company to add to innovations that keep your company ahead of the competition and therefore profitable.


  1. Why Are Intellectual Property Rights Important?

Intellectual property (IP) constitutes one of the most valuable assets for businesses to grow and stay ahead of the competition. Therefore it is important to protect these assets.A few important aspects that lend importance to IP rights are:

  • Distinguishes your business from that of competitors.
  • Creates capabilities to produce new and different products.
  • Provides a solid base for branding and marketing.
  • Can be sold or licensed thereby adding to your revenue.
  • Can be used as a security to raise loans.

It is rarely realized that IP protects critical aspects of business such as the name of the business, logo, innovations, creative and intellectual research work, trademarks. IP is useful in many ways like:

  • Trade Marks
  • Obtaining patent protection
  • Getting copyrights in place
  • Safeguarding and also handling design

IP may be often invisible asset.  But it is vital for your business to protect your IP in all its aspects because it is an integral part of good business sense.

  • Good IP protection is a warranty against infringement and provides a solid argument to defend it in a court case to establish your exclusive right to utilize, make, import or even sell it.
  • Prevent others from using, making, selling or importing it without your consent.
  • License it and earn royalties or sell it and make money.
  • Derive maximum benefit by employing it in strategic alliances.


  1. What Is The Difference Between Copyright And Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property (IP) is a collective term for various kinds of assets created by mind and brain. The creator of IP or the receiver of ownership by transfer is the sole owner of IP.  This law consists of the different ways to safeguard the creative ideas of the intellect that possess commercial and moral value. The different types of IP are:

  • Copyright
  • Trademarks
  • Patents
  • Industrial designs

IP rights provide a boost to engage in creative processes and result in promoting investment in new creations as they offer a return to the investors.

 What is a copyright?

When an individual or a group creates original work, a copyright is obtained as a protection for that work. The creator enjoys the exclusive rights for its use or distribution but has a time limit.The renewal of the copyright can be done or the work passes into the public domain. If it is in the public domain, it can be legally used without giving notice to the creator or compensation to the owner of the copyright. Copyrights are obtained for:

  • Books and literary works
  • Music- written or recorded
  • Paintings, sculptures, photographs and similar works of art
  • Plays

A copyright is saleable and transferable in ownership. The new owner has the exclusive rights for its use and distribution and any recompense thereof.


  1. What Are Intellectual Property Rights?

Intellectual property is an invisible product of human brain but is converted into a visible form and is associated with property rights. It is created in a variety of ways such as a song or music composition, a poem, a book or even a research article, a recognizable logo, a particular crop, a patent on a chemical process used in a medicine or a fashion design.

Intellectual property has given rise to copyrights, trademarks, patents as also trade secrets. It covers legal areas like unfair competition.  Intellectual property laws are framed to protect these variants. These laws offer temporary monopoly rights to the creators of unique processes, products, concepts etc.

Physical properties such as shape, volume, structure do not determine the value of the intellectual property for its owner. Its value emerges from possession and monopoly of a unique product or idea and the freedom to use it for manufacturing, reproduction or even promotion. For these reasons, intellectual property is considered as one of the valuable assets an individual or a small and big business can possess.


  1. Is Music Intellectual Property?

 Just like businesses, artists of every genre need intellectual property rights to protect their work. Musicians,whether for an album, original music or a band names, require copyrights and trademarks to establish their ownership.

Copyrights constitute a kind of IP asset. This asset may be owned by the creator – the artist or a company that employed the artist or bought the legal rights to use the creation.The owner of copyright can authorize its use by way of:

  • Assignments (transfers)
  • Licensing
  • Joint ventures
  • Reproduction- complete or partial
  • Production of derivatives
  • Public performances
  • Distribution of copies – sell, rent, lease or lend
  • Public display – direct, film, TV, slides etc.

The coverage of copyrights extends to both published and unpublished works, in areas such as music, drama, art, literature etc. It is not necessary for an artist to register the original work with the U.S. Copyright Office to get legal protections for IP. But the registration of the work has certain advantages such as the creation of a public record, eligibility of registered work for legal damages and lawyer’s fees in successful lawsuits


  1. Why Is It Important To Protect Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property (IP) protection is expensive for small and medium businesses (SMBs). However, some developments have resulted in reducing costs and speeding the process. These are:

  • A new classification of SMBs
  • Electronic filing systems
  • Changes in IP law streamlining the process
  • Shift from first-to-invent to first inventor-to-file

It is important to claim the intellectual achievements as it saves effort and money. It is vital to understand the federal law that provides protection to the ownership of personal property and real estate. The law also ensures that the right of the individual to exclusively control ideas and intangible assets is protected. This helps the owner of intellectual property to benefit from it and removes the fear of being exploited either by competitors or copycats.

Under the impact of globalization, it is critical for SMBs to create and protect IP rights both at home and abroad. IP policy changes are conducive to explore external markets. They can protect their IP by filing separate and simultaneous applications in every country of their choice. IP laws in some countries permit regional patents. As a strategic move, it is beneficial to choose those countries that offer environment for attractive market and scope for business success.

Intellectual Property Lawyers

We help you realize the value of your intellectual property

Licensed in Illinois and before the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office

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