April 14, 2005 -- Do you have an innovative concept for an invention
that you would like to build your business around? If that's the case, or if
you've already started this venture, you must take several key steps when
handling your intellectual property (IP).
First, identify your IP or potential IP and assess its value. The law
protects four basic categories of intangible assets: patents, trademarks,
copyrights, and trade secrets.
Patents issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office (USPTo) provide rights
in the U.S. for up to 20 years from the application filing date for new
inventions. Utility patents protect useful processes, machines, articles of
manufacture, and compositions of matter. Design patents guard the unauthorized
use of new, original, and ornamental designs of items to be made.
Trademarks-and in the same category, service marks and trade dress-protect
words, names, symbols, sounds, or colors that distinguish goods and services.
These can be renewed indefinitely through the USPTo, as long as they're being
used in business.
Copyrights protect literary works, including published documents, software,
and Web site content. The Library of Congress registers copyrights, which last
the life of the author plus 70 years.
Trade secrets are a business' guarded, proprietary know-how.
By Brad Thomas. (Thomas is the founder and president of
ip help LLC.)
This brief introduction has been excerpted from the original copyrighted article.
View the entire article on the Electronic Design Magazine website.
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