Simply put intellectual property is… creations of the mind.
Creations of the mind are imagination made real. It is the
ownership of an individuals dream, made physically tangible.
It is an asset just like a home, a car, or bank account.
The thinking behind the whole concept is that creators will not
have sufficient incentive to invent unless they are legally
entitled to capture the full social and economic value of their
These exclusive rights allow owners of intellectual property to
benefit from the property they have created, thus providing a
financial incentive for the investment they make in obtaining
intellectual property protection.
Some reason the concept of intellectual property is essential to maintaining good consistent economic growth.
Just like other kinds of property, intellectual property needs to be protected from unauthorized use. The United States Patent Office USPTO says, there are four ways to protect different types of intellectual property:
PATENTS provide rights for up to 20 years for inventions in three broad categories:
Utility patents protect useful processes, machines, articles of manufacture, and compositions of matter. Some examples: fiber optics, computer hardware, medications.
Design patents guard the unauthorized use of new, original, and ornamental designs for articles of manufacture. The look of an athletic shoe, a bicycle helmet, the Star Wars characters are all protected by design patents.
Plant patents are the way we protect invented or discovered, asexually reproduced plant varieties. Hybrid tea roses, Silver Queen corn, Better Boy tomatoes are all types of plant patents.
TRADEMARKS protect words, names, symbols, sounds, or colors that distinguish goods and services. Trademarks, unlike patents, can be renewed forever as long as they are being used in business. The roar of the MGM lion, the pink of the Owens-Corning insulation, and the shape of a Coca-Cola bottle are familiar trademarks.
COPYRIGHTS protect works of authorship, such as writings, music, and works of art that have been tangibly expressed. The Library of Congress registers copyrights which last the life of the author plus 50 years. Gone With The Wind (the book and the film), Beatles recordings, and video games are all works that are copyrighted.
TRADE SECRETS are information that companies keep secret to give them an advantage over their competitors. The formula for Coca-Cola is the most famous trade secret.
It is interesting to note. The writers of the United States Constitution appreciated the importance of establishing a patent system. They gave Congress the power to establish a patent and copyright system. Down through history, word use can change. It is interesting to note, when the Constitution was written, the term "science" meant the dissemination of information and the term " useful arts" referred to what we now call engineering. Thus the patent system was intended to protect the useful arts and the copyright system to protect science. Over the last two hundred plus years the meanings of the terms have reversed. The only place were the old meanings survive is in the United States Patent Office. The USPTO is divided into "art units" along technology lines and the existing technology is know as the "prior art." We also have left, today, the common phrase, "state of the art”.
If you want to be or are an intellectual property owner, it is your responsibility to protect your rights.
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