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Learning about Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property, aka IP, is a term used in reference to creations of the mind such as inventions, artistic or literary works or names, symbols, designs or images used in business. More commonly, we use the term intellectual property when referring to patents, copyright, trademarks and trade secrets because these are products of our creative minds.

Although intellectual property is our imagination coming to life, it is an asset just like our home, automobile, furniture, savings or anything else we own. Another way that intellectual property is similar to our physical assets is that it can bring us revenue and, therefore, needs to be protected from theft or misuse.

Copyrights, patents and trademarks are intellectual property that are very similar to each other, yet are very different and each serve a different purpose.


A patent grants an inventor certain property rights against infringement by others. These rights include preventing others from using, selling, making, importing or offering his or her invention in the United States without the inventor's permission. The Patent and Trademark Office issues the patent, after patent application review, to the inventor for a term of 20 years, which starts on the date the patent application was filed in the United State....More>>


Trademarks will protect names, words, symbols colors or sounds used to distinguish specific products and services. Unlike patents, which are only good for 20 years, trademarks can always be renewed as long as they are for business use. Trademarks are important marketing tools to distinguish one product from another.....More>>


Copyrights offer authors protection for their original works of authorship including writings, musical, dramatic, works of art that have been tangibly express and certain other intellectual works, whether unpublished or published. Copyrights are registered with the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress for the life of the author plus 70 years.....More>>

Trade Secrets

Trade secrets are specific secret information companies have about their product or service that makes them unique from their competition. The formula used in Coca-Cola is a famous trade secret....More>>