Intellectual property refers to any product of intellect such as an idea, invention etc. which has some value in the marketplace and that which can be reduced to a tangible form. Intellectual property laws determine who owns the exclusive rights to the intellectual property and when and how to capitalize on it. Intellectual property law has many subcategories according to the type of ‘property’ involved. They are listed as follows:
Patent law deals with inventions and the right to exclude others from making, using or selling the invention. There are three types of patents namely Utility Patents, Design Patents and Plant Patents. Utility and plant patents expire 20 years from the date of filing while design patents last 14 years from the date of issuance.
Trademark law deals with brand names, logos, symbols etc that are used in marketing of goods and the degree to which an owner will be afforded a monopoly over the use of the same. Many patented goods or processes are also covered by trademarks.
Copyright law deals with rights given to authors, artists, composers etc and prevents others from publishing or copying their work. Works that are covered by copyright include books, poetry, plays, songs, photographs, advertisements, movies, recordings etc. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act provides criminal penalties for those who provide technology that can overcome copyright protection.
Trade Secret Law:
Trade secret law covers any kind of trade secret such as design, device, process, composition, technique etc that is not known generally and provides a competitive business advantage to its owner.
Unfair Competition Law:
Unfair competition law covers creations that don’t fall under the above subcategories such as a business name, unique advertising slogan etc. that are distinctive and which when copied can cause buyers of a particular brand to confuse it with a product of another business.