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What Business Owners Should Know About Intellectual Property

  • Feb 17 2021

When you work hard to create your own business, the last thing you want is for others to profit off of your hard work. That’s why it’s so important to protect your intellectual property rights by filing for all copyrights, trademarks, and patents pertaining to your business. 

Copyrights Can Protect Your Authored Works

When you author a work such as a book, poem, song, software, or film, a copyright can afford you exclusive copies of your work. While technically your work is automatically protected under copyright when created, without further steps, your enforcement options are limited if someone infringes upon your work. That’s why it’s a good idea to register your copyright formally with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Once you obtain a copyright, the length of time that it lasts is dependent upon who created the work. If an individual created the work in question, the protection will be for the life of the author plus 70 years. If the work is created pseudonymously, or for hire, the copyright will either last 120 years from the date it was created or 95 years from the date that it was published, whichever is shorter. 

Trademarks Can Protect Your Defining Brand Identity

A big part of any brand includes its identifying characteristics, such as its logo, name, slogans, and more. Although you don’t have to obtain trademarks for these things, you will receive greater protection for doing so. By obtaining a trademark you also obtain the legal presumption of ownership as well as a specific date that your protection began. You can register a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

The length of a trademark differs from that of a copyright in that there is no specific period of expiration. Rather, a trademark will continue so long as it’s in use – and you maintain all fees required over time.

Patents Can Protect Your Unique Inventions

Further, when you invent something, you will want it to be protected from use by others who profit off of it – unless they receive your permission to do so. Patents are also granted by the USPTO. 

There are two different main kinds of patents: design patents and utility patents. A design patent, which as it sounds protects the very design of your invention and its ornamental features, is enforceable for 15 years from the date the patent is issued. Utility patents on the other hand, which protect the functionality of the invention, have a term of protection of 20 years from the date that the application was filed.  A third type, a plant patent, can also be pursued for invented, asexually reproduced, distinct and new varieties of plants (other than a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state).   

Scully, Scott, Murphy & Presser Can Help Protect Your Rights

While it may seem simple to obtain protection for your intellectual property, understanding the nuances of each application and process can be quite complex. That’s why it’s in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced IP attorney who can help you to ensure you are adequately protected. 

At Scully, Scott, Murphy & Presser, our qualified intellectual property attorneys can help you to navigate the various IP application processes or can help to defend your existing IP and your rights regarding any infringement. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

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