When operating your business, you may find yourself inventing something new, creating a brand for your product or service, creating media to promote your product or service, or keeping proprietary information that gives your business a competitive advantage.
In other words, you’ll be creating intellectual property, in this article, I’m going to briefly explain the different types of intellectual property and introduce ways to protect your intellectual property.
To help illustrate the different types of intellectual property, I’m going to use the soft drink Coca-Cola as an example.
The four types of intellectual property are patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.
A patent is an exclusive right to make, use, sell, or import an invention.
In the U.S., patents are issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and it’s important to know that an inventor does not have the exclusive right to an invention until a patent is issued by the patent office.
Other countries have their own patent application process, and U.S. patent is not enforceable in international markets.
The United States patent office issues three types of patents utility patents, design patents, and plant patents.
In basic terms, utility patents cover the function of an invention while design patents cover the appearance of an invention.
The Coca-Cola Company has a utility patent in the process for bottling its drinks, It also has design patents in the designs of some of its bottles, These patents give the Coca-Cola Company the exclusive right to use the bottling process and the patented designs of some of its bottles.
A trademark is something that is used to identify the source of a product or service.
A trademark can be a name, a logo, a color, or a device used to distinguish the source of a product or service.
A trademark does not have to be filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
A trademark is created as soon as your business uses the name, logo, or other devices to identify your business as the source of that product or service.
However, there are legal advantages to filing your trademark in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, especially when it comes to enforcing your trademark and proving your ownership.
The Coca-Cola Company has registered trademarks in the name Coca-Cola and the Coca-Cola logo.
This gives the Coca-Cola Company the exclusive right to use the name and the logo on its products and merchandise.
Copyright establishes a person’s rights to an original work of authorship.
A copyright is created when the author creates original work in fixed media.
Fixed media includes writings, drawings, paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos, audio recordings,
and even electronic media works that aren’t in a fixed media aren’t protected by copyright.
These works might include speeches, dances, and even musical performances that haven’t been written down or recorded.
The Coca-Cola Company has copyrights in its advertisements used to promote its products. This means the Coca-Cola Company has the exclusive right to use the images and sounds in its advertisements.
A trade secret is a piece of information that is not generally known or reasonably ascertainable and gives the owner a competitive advantage.
In order to create a trade secret, the owner has the responsibility of keeping that information confidential.
Confidentiality is accomplished by using non-disclosure agreements and implementing policies and practices
that restrict access to that confidential information.
While the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code provides legal and equitable remedies for the misappropriation of trade secrets, if that information is obtained without being misappropriated, then that information is no longer protected by trade secret law.
The Coca-Cola Company has a trade secret in its formula for Coca-Cola by protecting this formula and keeping it confidential, the Coca-Cola Company is preventing other companies from duplicating its product.