Do I have any intellectual property?

Every business has some sort of intellectual property – whether it is your logo, marketing materials, software, or recipes.  This all is intellectual property.  Learning to identify your business’s intellectual property and ensuring it is properly protected can add value to your business.  

The four types of intellectual property are: 


A copyright protects someone from copying or using without permission any creative work that is fixed in a medium (photography, writing, video).  Copyright protection is automatic once the work is fixed in some media. However, in many situations, in order to bring a lawsuit for infringement and be eligible for more damages in the event someone steals your work, you must register the copyright with the federal Copyright Office.  The process is easy and should always be used to protect important works that are valuable to your business.  


A trademark protects your brand, logo, or name from being used by someone else with the same or similar goods or services to promote their business.  You begin to create trademark rights by using your trademark in public to sell your goods or services. These trademark rights will cover your general geographic area that you operate and where you have a customer base.  If you want to have trademark protection in the entire United States, then you must register your trademark with the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office. Your trademark rights continue as long as you use the mark in commerce and, in the case of a federal trademark, file the appropriate renewals. 


A patent provides you with up to twenty years of protection to prevent others from using your invention.  The invention must be new, non-obvious, and applicable to a specific industry, agriculture or other field. In order to obtain patent rights, you must register the invention with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and disclose it to the public.  The disclosure must be done properly or you may lose your potential patent rights. If you have an idea, consult with an attorney sooner rather than later to maximize your potential protection.

Trade Secrets

Trade secrets are what gives your business a competitive edge in your industry.  Examples include customer lists, targeted marketing strategies, specific formulas, recipes, and anything else that provides your business value.  These are protected by keeping them secret.  As long as they stay secret, your protection will continue.   

Now that you know you have some intellectual property, Ginny is available to help you determine the best way to protect it and maximize value.

Ginny Cascio Bonifacino, Esq.



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