Types of Intellectual Property


Copyright is a form of legal protection provided by United States to the authors of “original works of authorship” giving them exclusive rights to it, and to be credited and paid for its use. This protection includes literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works and is available to both published and unpublished works.


A patent provides the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing the patented invention for the term of the patent, which is usually 20 years from the filing date. Patent approval can be a long and costly process. An invention must be described in sufficient detail to the Patent Office to teach someone in the field of the invention to make and use the invention just by reading the description. Applications for a patent will publish and be subject to a lengthy review process that is subject to public inspection. To get a patent, an exclusionary right, the inventor must successfully demonstrate that the innovation is new, useful, and not obvious.


Simply stated, a trademark is a brand name. A trademark or service mark can include any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination that identifies the goods or services of the owner of the mark.


Protecting intellectual property is vital for software developers. This protection can take a few different forms; copyright, patent, trademark and trade secrets. Patents, copyrights and trade secrets protect the code itself. Trademarks protect the unique name or symbols associated with the software.

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