Boston Intellectual Property Information Center
Intellectual property is a constantly evolving area of law that involves a number of state and federal regulations that encourage artistic and technological development. Various laws also protect product appearance and design. Many ideas and items we encounter every day involve some intellectual property right. For example, the growth of the internet has led to changes in intellectual property rights and laws. In recent years, laws have been enacted to address issues such as cybersquatting, online music distribution, and recording cable programs. Courts and legislators are working to balance access to technological advances and protection of the rights of those who bring the technology to the market.
Intellectual property rights are not uniform across different areas. They are governed by an array of state and federal laws. For example, patents are governed by federal law, while trademarks are governed by both state and federal trademark systems. Also, the periods of intellectual property protection vary. Some rights, such as those for copyright, are subject to explicit time restrictions. There are costs associated with applying for, and maintaining, intellectual property protections from the government. The scope of rights also differs according to the intellectual property involved.
What are the Common types of intellectual property ?
- Trademarks, which identify the source of goods and services for consumers. Trademark law gives the trademark owner the right to exclude others from using confusingly similar trademarks.
- Patents, which award certain rights of exclusivity to inventors. Patent law gives the patent owner the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, or offering for sale any product or process that is protected by the patent.
- Copyright, which prevents copying of works including books, music, movies, and artwork. Copyright law gives the copyright owner the right to exclude others from copying, adapting, displaying, and performing the work protected by copyright.
- Trade secrets, which may include special formulae, confidential computer code and other proprietary business information that a company takes care to protect from disclosure.
- False advertising matters are also often considered within the area of intellectual property.
What are the Benefits of Protecting Your Intellectual Property?
- There are many benefits to protecting your intellectual property rights. These rewards include:
- Increasing product sales through the use of a prominent and distinctive trademark that allows customers to identify your company’s products with ease
- Helping the public by making things like new drugs, security products or communications technology accessible to people in need
- Increasing your revenue stream by licensing your inventions
- Gaining competitive advantage by maximizing exclusive rights to make and sell inventions for limited periods of time
- Enhancing the reputation of your business by preventing your goods and services from being confused with others