In the patenting world there is much talk on intellectual property (IP). What is it and what protection does it provide for inventors? For many there are a lot of gray areas as to what this is exactly. Here we will break down and discuss the different types of items that fall under the IP umbrella.
Intellectual Property titles currently include:
A patent is a set of rights awarded to an inventor for a specific amount of time that allows the inventor to decide how an invention can be used by others. It also provides the rights to an inventor if they decide the invention may not be used by others. This type of IP is only available for tangible items. As a result of a patent, the inventor makes their idea public in the published patent document. A patent also ensures that others are not able to profit off of the invention patented unless there is permission from the inventor. If an inventor with a patent does allow the invention to be used, a licensing agreement is usually drawn up defining the manner in which the patent will be used. Patents are LoneStar Patent Service’s specialty.
Copyrights are the legal entitlements given to creators of books, movies, music, computer programs, maps, technical drawings and recipes.
A trademark is a symbol that has been in use for ages. It is used to distinguish services or goods from one business entity to another. Trademarks are based on an ancient ritual where craftsmen either signed or marked their items to distinguish their work from another. For example, metal works such as pewter or gold are often stamped or engraved with a trademark.
Geographical locations are markers located on a product, such as a tag, to indicate the product’s country of origin. For example, many items manufactured in the United States are often labeled with ‘Made in the USA’. It is common to see these types of geographical location markers on clothing, towels and coffee mugs, to name a few.
An industrial design covers the ornamental or aesthetic aspects of a design. This includes two or three dimensional designs which cover patterns, lines and colors. For example, fabrics would fall under this category.
Intellectual Property is a constantly changing concept as new technologies emerge. In the early days, only patenting existed under the IP umbrella. Early inventors were patenting ideas for farming equipment and items applicable to that time period. As time went on, inventors needed a way to protect their other ideas that didn’t necessarily fall under patent rights. Items such as books and maps needed to be protected so as not to be stolen and credited to others.
As technology evolved over the past century, inventors needed to find a way to protect software rights as well. This is where copyright laws came into play. The IP umbrella continues to expand and may also go on to include more titles to accommodate inventions and technologies that aren’t even a concept as of yet.