Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual property is all around us, from miracle drugs to computer games. Our legal system provides rights and protections for owners of intellectual property through patent, trademark, and copyright laws.

Intellectual property reflects heavy investment of brainpower and 스토킹전문변호사 time, and should be protected from being used without permission. Learn about the different types of intellectual property and how they protect you.


Trademarks protect words, names, symbols and designs that distinguish one company’s goods or services from those of another. They often build brand recognition and consumer loyalty, like the Reese’s red-orange packaging or the Nike swoosh logo. Like copyrights, trademarks can be protected on a national and international basis by registration, and by enforcement actions in court.

Because trademarks can only be enforced against those who actually use them, it’s important for companies to carefully monitor the marketplace to ensure that no unauthorized infringement of their mark has occurred. Businesses also need to be prepared for a third party to challenge their claim to the mark in a court of law, which could result in significant legal costs.

Unlike patents and copyrights, which are granted for one-off fixed terms, a trademark can be lost through non-use over time (a process called genericization) or it may be canceled or revoked by the authority responsible for registering it. To avoid losing their rights, businesses should keep track of the date on which they first began using a particular mark and file an intent to use application to reserve it.

Depending on the jurisdiction, the owner of a trademark has a variety of rights to pursue against those who infringe them, including treble damages and attorney fees. However, courts will weigh First Amendment considerations in determining the extent to which a trademark owner can police infringement.


Copyrights are legal protections that attach to an original creation, giving its owner the exclusive right to reproduce and sell it or make copies of it. Like trademarks, they are a subset of intellectual property rights and apply to tangible works of authorship such as books, music and paintings. Unlike patents, they do not protect ideas or concepts but rather the way an idea is expressed in its physical form.

In general, copyrights last 70 years after the death of the creator. This duration can be extended by the work’s successive or purchasing owners, or it can be revoked and the work becomes part of the public domain. Copyright holders can use their exclusive rights to prevent others from using their work without permission or in violation of a legal defense such as fair use.

However, there are a few exceptions. For example, if you create a work as part of your employment duties or it is commissioned by someone else, the copyright may be owned by your employer instead of yourself. The first owner of a work can transfer all or part of his or her exclusive rights to another person, but must do so in writing. He or she can also bequeath or pass along his or her rights through a will. Moral rights, which are not transferable or assignable, are separate from the economic rights.


Patents protect inventions by giving their holders the legal right to exclude others from making, using or selling the product or solution to a technical problem for a limited period of time. They provide incentives for businesses and individuals to invest in research and development, compensating them for the high costs involved in developing new products or services.

In order for an invention to be patented, it must be new, involve an inventive step, and be industrially applicable. The inventive step must be such that the new invention does not appear obvious in light of existing knowledge and experience. The invention must be a technical product such as a machine, a manufacture or an industrial process, a material or a substance, or an improvement in an existing product or method of operation.

In the US, patent protection lasts for 20 years from the date of filing the application. In other countries, patent protection may be granted for different lengths of time. For example, in the UK, a patent can be protected for up to 15 years from the date of application. In addition, certain specialized forms of intellectual property rights such as utility models and supplementary protection certificates (SPCs) are available for particular technologies. Utility model protection is similar to patents, but is less extensive and applies only to technical solutions rather than to products or processes.

Trade Secrets

A trade secret is a confidential business information that gives your company a competitive advantage. It can be a formula, practice, process, design, instrument, pattern, compilation, or other intellectual property that derives independent economic value from its secrecy and for which the holder takes reasonable measures to protect and maintain its secrecy. The famous Coca-Cola recipe is a classic example of a trade secret.

Like other forms of IP, trade secrets do not have to be registered with a government agency, although most countries have laws regulating the misappropriation of them. The law varies widely, but typically provides for civil action, including a preliminary and permanent injunction to prevent further use, an account of profits and damages, and compensation.

Unlike patents, where disclosure to the public is required, trade secret protection relies on companies protecting their own information and taking steps to make sure that only those who need the information have it. As a result, many businesses rely heavily on trade secret protection as the only legal means of protecting their most valuable intangible assets.

Employees may be required to sign agreements agreeing not to reveal the employer’s secrets and surrender any ownership rights in their work product to the company. These agreements also typically prohibit employees from working for a competitor for a specified period (sometimes within a geographic area). If you suspect someone has stolen your trade secret, an experienced intellectual property lawyer can help you investigate the matter and take appropriate legal action.