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Our society is becoming one based more and more on information. Because of this, the ability to protect and profit from original intellectual property becomes more and more important to involved professionals: writers, photographers, software engineers, inventors, and cottage industries.

If you’ve got intellectual property (IP) you want to protect, you might be wondering exactly how to do it. There are four main ways to protect intellectual property: trademarks, patents, copyrights, and trade secrets. Read on to learn which IP protection would work best for you.

Trademarks: A trademark is a mark that distinguishes one business from another, such as a name, phrase, logo, symbol, image, or a combination of any of these elements. A trademark can also include a jingle or sound. Trademarks have recently come to include a variety of digital and electronic images. Read more about importance of implementing intellectual property protection and how it can help you improve your business productivity there.

Patents: Patents are intellectual property rights that protect an invention. Inventions must be novel and non-obvious. A patent has a limited lifespan. In addition to patenting inventive devices, scientific discoveries can also be patented. For example, genetically modified seeds and organisms are now patented. The Supreme Court recently ruled, however, that medical companies cannot patent naturally occurring human genes or DNA, though they can patent DNA that they synthetically create in the laboratory.

Copyrights: Copyrights protect literature, music and other creative works. It protects any information or ideas that are discrete and substantive. A copyright gives the holder the privilege of being credited for the work. It also gives the copyright holder the right to:

  • Determine who may perform the work
  • Decide who may financially benefit from the work
  • If the work can be adapted to other forms, and by whom it may be adapted.

Copyrights protect the work for only a limited amount of time. Copyrights taken out prior to 1978 have a limit of 95 years. Those taken out after 1978 last for the lifetime of the holder plus seventy years, or seventy years from publication of the work.

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