Having intellectual property (IP) protection in place helps organizations to protect the hard work, innovation, and ingenuity that define and set apart their business operations from the competition. When it comes to protecting inventions or other forms of IP, understanding the definition of intellectual property is vital.

As a business operates in the New York market, specific regulations and laws apply. It is therefore essential, first and foremost, to find reputable and experienced counsel that is well versed in the local laws and regulations. UpCounsel is an online platform that connect New York entrepreneurs and business owners with highly vetted legal support in IP law (as well as commercial contract drafting and other corporate legal services).

This article explains how to get started with intellectual property definition, providing an overview of the different types of IP protection available and exploring the key elements of IP law. Having a basic understanding of IP law, as well as access to a trusted attorney, will help to protect the rights of the business and ensure that its hard-earned assets are not subjected to misuse, infringement, or exploitation.

What Constitutes Intellectual Property

At its root, IP is the legal concept that identifies and protects the intangible creations of a person or business. More specifically, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) defines IP as “creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.”

While tangible property is tangible, IP is of an intangible nature. IP can encompass a vast array of creations that have been identified as property rights, including patents, copyright law, trademarks, and trade secrets.

Intellectual Property Protection

In general, there are four major categories of IP protection, and it is important to understand how to protect each one and when. Patent law is the only form of IP that needs to be registered with the USPTO in order to receive protection.


A trademark is a sign, symbol, or phrase that is used to identify a particular product or service and distinguishes it from that of others in its competitive set. A trademark can exist in the form of a name, word, slogan, slogan, logo, design, or any combination or permutation of all of the above. This type of IP helps to protect a business’s reputation and product recognition. It is recommended that businesses register a trademark with the USPTO in order to receive full protection under the law.

Trade or Service Mark

A service mark is similar to a trademark, but it is designed to protect a service (as opposed to a product). The laws that govern service marks are the same as those governing trademarks.


A patent is a form of IP protection provided for inventions. In order to obtain a patent, an inventor must meet certain requirements, such as novelty—that is, the invention must be a new, non-obvious, and useful invention. A patent can be secured for the invention itself, or for a new process for making or using it. Patent law prohibits others from making, using, or selling the invention without first obtaining the inventor’s permission.


A copyright is intended to protect creative works such as artwork, writing, books, music, and videos. A copyright does not require registration, and is automatically granted to the creator of the work. The creator has exclusive control over the reproduction of the work, and any third party infringement can be punishable by civil action.

Understanding Local Regulation

When it comes to understanding and protecting IP, consulting an experienced business lawyer is an essential first step. Having a lawyer who is knowledgeable about the laws and regulations that are applicable to the local market can be vital to any business’s success. UpCounsel is a platform that connects New York businesses with highly vetted and experienced business lawyers, providing access to quality legal advice and counsel on demand.


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