1. What Is Intellectual Property?
2. What Is Copyright?
3. What Are Patents?

Understanding IPR, or intellectual property rights, is important if you're planning to invest in intellectual properties or to develop your own for use in a commercial application.

What Is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property can potentially be anything that is produced as a result of an individual's unique thought processes. Examples of intellectual property can include, but are not limited to, aspects such as:  

  • Inventions  
  • Literary compositions  
  • Artistic works  
  • Designs  
  • Logos  
  • Symbols used in commercial applications  
  • Images used in commercial applications.

Intellectual properties are protected by certain sets of laws. They can be broken down into categories such as:  

  • Patents  
  • Copyrights  
  • Trademarks.  

Intellectual property laws also allow individuals and legal business entities to:

  • Gain recognition
  • Benefit financially from their creations. 

Intellectual property systems attempt to create an environment that fosters innovation and creativity for the benefit of the entire world. They do this by striking a good balance between innovators' interests and those of the general public. 

"Copyright" is the legal terminology used to outline the rights that creators and innovators can claim in relation to literary compositions and artistic works. Intellectual properties that copyright laws cover include aspects such as:  

  • Books  
  • Music  
  • Paintings  
  • Sculptures  
  • Films  
  • Software  
  • Databases  
  • Advertisements  
  • Maps  
  • Technical sketches and drawings.

The rights of individuals or legal entities responsible for the creation of such intellectual properties are protected by copyright law for a minimum of 50 years after the creator has passed away. Copyright law also offers related or "neighboring" rights of performers, such as:  

  • Actors  
  • Singers  
  • Producers  
  • Broadcasting organizations.

One of the primary purposes of the protection that copyright laws offer is to reward and to encourage continued creative work. Any original intellectual property of the nature discussed here is eligible for copyright protection. One of the most obvious rights a creator has is the copyright protection of his or her own creations. 

Practically anything that has been published, electronically or otherwise, is considered to be copyrighted. Generally speaking, a copyright is automatically created the moment a work comes into existence. Filing for a copyright is not required to gain protection under copyright law. 

In some countries, however, filing a copyright can provide additional protection for registered works. Regardless of whether a copyright is filed, any copyrighted work is protected from redistribution or use without the creator's permission.

What Are Patents?

Patents are protective rights that are granted exclusively to inventions. In most cases, a patent will provide the owner with the rights to decide whether his or her invention may be used by others, and if so, how they are allowed to use it. 

However, patent owners are required to publish a patent document that makes the technical details of their invention available to the public in exchange for the legal rights their patent provides them. Any invention can be patented if the owner wishes to exercise these rights.

Patents also grant the owner exclusive rights to make, sell, and use their invention in the country or countries they hold patents in for their invention. For the owner to exploit these rights, he or she must file a patent application with the appropriate patent office in every country that the owner wishes to patent the invention in.

What Are Trademarks?

Trademarks are signs or symbols that can be used to distinguish the services and goods of one company from those of any other company. Trademarks are much older than many people realize. In fact, they can be traced back to ancient times when artisans marked their products with seals and signatures. 

Any distinct product may be registered as a trademark. In general terms, any mark that is used to indicate a specific company's services or goods in a commercial setting may be considered a trademark. Typically, trademarks consist of:

  • Images
  • Words. 

However, in some cases, sounds and colors may also be utilized as a trademark. 

It's normally necessary to register your trademark with the appropriate local office to make sure it is protected under trademark law. The owner of a trademark has the right to prevent others from offering certain services or goods that use the registered trademark or a similar sign that can be considered "confusingly similar," according to established trademark laws.

If you need help with IPR intellectual property rights, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.