By Bruce Furst
Intellectual property refers to any property that is the direct creation of the mind, and it encompasses works of art, books, inventions, designs, and more. Residents of the United States who want to protect their intellectual property have four legal channels available to them.
Patents protect specific categories of intellectual property: designs, original plants (such as hybrid tomatoes), and utilities (such as medications, unique processes, and equipment). The protection granted by a patent lasts for 20 years.
Copyrights guard artistic creations such as songs and writing, and they last for the duration of the creator’s life plus 50 years. Trademarks provide protection for symbols, sounds, colors, shapes, words, and names. They can be perpetually renewed, assuming a company still actively uses the trademarked item.
Trade secrets include information that businesses use to distinguish themselves from their competitors.
An entire branch of law exists to protect intellectual property rights. In some cases, attorneys focus on one of the four types of intellectual property law (e.g., patent law or copyright law); in other cases, attorneys focus generally on intellectual property.
About Bruce Furst
After studying intellectual property during law school, Bruce Furst launched a professional life merchandising licensed products. In addition to other clients, Furst has licensed products for the Major League Baseball Players Association, Archie Comics, and Ritz-Carlton Hotels.