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General

Types of intellectual property rights

Intellectual property refers to intangible assets that are the creation of the human mind such as inventions, literary or artistic works. These assets are protected by law, giving exclusive rights to the owner. Common types of intellectual property rights which you can use to protect your business and creations include copyrights, trademarks and patents.

Copyright protects works such as novels, paintings, musical or literary works, live performances, computer software, sound recordings and such. Copyright laws protect the expression of ideas and not the ideas itself. For this reason, an idea must be put into a tangible form such as words or illustrations to gain copyrights. Once the copyright is received, the owner of the copyrighted work has the exclusive right to reproduce, publish, perform, adapt, modify or display this work. This allows the owner to limit the commercial exploitation of his work. The owner also has the rights to transfer ownership or grant licenses for the use of the work.

Trademark is a sign or symbol used to distinguish businesses or goods from other traders and protects goods, words, symbols or phrases used in connection with the goods or services. It can be in the form of a symbol, logo or signature. A registered trademark allows you to protect your business or services by restricting others from using the same name or logo. Once acquired, a trademark must be renewed every 10 years.

Patents are rights granted to the owner of an invention. Patents prevent others from using, making or selling the product without the permission of the patent holder. There are three types of patents; namely utility, design and plant patents. The most common types are utility patents. Patents are the only type of intellectual property that must be registered with the federal government to receive patent law protection.

Intellectual property rights and laws are fairly complex, and many people may have difficulty understanding them. An intellectual property attorney will be able to answer most of your questions and provide guidance regarding IPR laws.

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