A Guide to Intellectual Property Law

In the United States, property law has been put in place to encourage the free flow of exchange. Intellectual property law is the only part of this that is the exact opposite.

Instead, the purpose of intellectual property laws are to encourage new technologies, artistic expressions and inventions while promoting economic growth. The government has done this by putting laws in place to exclude all others from using this specific type of property.

Intellectual property comprises of three main categories:

trademark law, copyright law and patent law.

Other categories or subcategories from these big three include: industrial design rights, trade dress, and trade secrets.

In general, patents protect inventions of tangible things; copyrights protect various forms of written and artistic expression and trademarks protect a name or symbol that identifies the source of the goods or services. Trade secret law varies from state to state and may consist of any formula, pattern, device or compilation of information that is used to obtain an advantage over a competitor.

Startup companies are often plagued by poor legal work in the field of intellectual property. If you have a trademark or a patent that is the main part of your business you should always have an attorney conduct a search to make sure you are not infringing on another as well as take the time to register. Intellectual property is never an issue until it is too late, it is very cheap to research and you should always register your IP early rather than when problems occur years later.

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