“This idea is mine.” “I came up with that idea.” Often times people talk about protecting or even owning an idea. However, ideas are not protectable. What you can do is protect a piece of particular information, invention, creation, logo or image. How? Well, in this blog post we will list the 5 ways you can protect your intellectual property.

1. Trade Secrets – Protection Until It Becomes Public Knowledge.

In general, trade secret protects information with commercial or financial value against acquisition by improper means or unauthorized disclosure. The information cannot be generally known or available. Thus, the person asserting the protection has to safeguard the information, keep it a “secret”. Trade secret may protect: formulas, patterns, compilations, programs, devices, methods, techniques, processes, client lists, etc. The most famous example of a trade secret is the Coca Cola recipe.

2. Patents – A Limited Federal Monopoly.

Patent protection offers a 20-year period monopoly for inventions that are: (1) useful; (2) novel; and (3) non-obvious. To obtain patent protection, the inventor must first submit an application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In its application, the inventor has to disclose sufficient information about the invention in order to enable others “skilled in the art” to make and use the invention. “The patent grant is nearly absolute, barring even those who independently develop the invention.” Some patentable subject matter examples include processes, machines, manufacture, or composition of matter.

3. Copyrights – Federal Protection for a Creative World

Copyrights protect literary and artistic expression–including books, poetry, song, dance, dramatic works, computer programs, movies, sculpture, and paintings. Namely, copyright protects an author’s particular expression of an idea, not the idea in itself. To enjoy copyright protection, a work must be (1) original and (2) be fixed in a “tangible medium of expression.” Unlike patents, creative work is protectable as soon as the work is fixed.  While registration is not mandatory, it is strongly advised for legal reasons such as filing a claim in federal courts.

4. Trademarks – More like Consumer Protection and Unfair Practice Law

Trademarks are the words (e.g. Nike Standard Character), phrases (e.g. “Just do it”), logos (e.g. Nike swoosh or other stylized Nike letters) and symbols (e.g. Nike swoosh) that producers or businesses use to identify the source of their goods (e.g. shirts, footwear, etc.) or services. Although trademarks is part of the intellectual property realm, its main focus is to protect consumers by improving the quality of information in the marketplace. Trademark protection stems from either use in commerce or registration. Always make sure your mark identifies you and does not describe your goods or services.

5. The Right of Publicity – Protection Almost Exclusive for Celebrities

Lastly, the right of publicity “protects an individual’s marketable image or persona.” Namely, the right of publicity “affords individuals a property-type interest in the use of their name, likeness, photograph, portrait, voice, and other personal characteristics in connection with the marketing of products and services.

Conclusion

In this blog post, we listed the 5 ways you can protect your intellectual property. Feel free to comment below what IP protection you think you need for your business!

Sources:

Robert P. Merges, Intellectual Property in the New Technological Age 24-31, 1064 (6th ed. 2012).

The Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 101 et seq., https://www.copyright.gov/title17/title17.pdf

The U.S. Patent Act, 35 U.S.C. §101 et seq., https://moj.gov.jm/sites/default/files/laws/Patent%20Act.pdf

The U.S. Trademark “Lanham” Act, 15 U.S.C. §1051 et seq., https://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/trademarks/law/Trademark_Statutes.pdf

The Industrial and Trade Secret Protection Act of Puerto Rico, Act No. 80-2011, http://www.oslpr.org/download/en/2011/A-0080-2011.pdf

The Government of Puerto Rico Trademark Act, Act No. 169-2009, http://www.oslpr.org/download/en/2009/A-0169-2009.pdf

The Right of Publicity Act, Act No. 139-2011, http://www.oslpr.org/download/en/2011/A-0139-2011.pdf


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