Three Crucial Ways to Protect Intellectual Property for Inventors and Entrepreneurs

Length of patent protection

Intellectual property is the status given to everything from inventions of new and innovative processes to brand logos and creative written works. While it doesn’t necessarily protect an idea that a person has, intellectual property protection guards an individual or business’s creations to prevent what is known as intellectual property theft or infringement. For any business owner or person looking to make money off of a product, service, artistic or written work, or even a brand name or logo, knowing the right ways to protect intellectual property is crucial.

By working with an intellectual property rights lawyer, the inventors can find the right level of protection for their creations. In the United States, the three most popular ways to protect intellectual property are to file for a patent, trademark, or copyright. While the process is similar for many of these creations, it is crucial that inventors work with copyright, trademark, and patent litigation attorneys to receive accurate information on each of these formats. Here are the basics on how these innovations are protected in the United States:


Patents, in intellectual property law, cover several different categories of inventions: new and useful processes, machines, or mechanisms; new or altered ornamental designs; and plants that have been asexually reproduced. Respectively, these are known as utility, design, and plant patents. Patents are registered through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (or USPTO). They also require what is known as a maintenance fee in order to sustain their protection for a length of time.


A trademark is the name given to any service mark or identifying feature for a product or business. For example, the apple-shaped logo for Apple Computers is a trademark, and names like “Apple,” “iPhone,” “iPad,” and “iPod” are all protected by trademarks, as well. This helps to prevent other businesses from using the same or similar logos or naming their products too similarly to Apple’s line of mobile devices. In the U.S., trademarks are also registered through the USPTO.


Copyrights are actually some of the most straightforward forms of intellectual property protection, but they can also be difficult to defend. Copyright provides the basis by which creators are paid for their written or artistic works, such as songs, poems, novels, non-fiction writing, short stories, paintings, photographs, drawings, sculptures, and other art forms. Take, for instance, a songwriter who creates an original song or album. When their work gets used on TV, in movies, or sampled or covered by another artist, the original songwriter must get paid and/or get credit for that work. If another singer writes a song that uses a similar melody, despite not being the same song, it may be difficult to hold up in court. Copyrights are registered through the United States Copyright Office; however, copyright is actually automatically granted once a work is created, unlike patents and trademarks which typically require registration to defend legally from infringement.

Have more questions about ways to protect intellectual property in the United States or beyond? Leave a comment below.

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