Protecting What’s Yours

Intellectual property can sound like a big scary word.  It encompasses a world filled with patents, copyrights and trademarks.  Some business owners don’t really think about how their specific ideas, methods or procedures might need to be protected.  Other owners, in fields like software development, know that they need to take every step they can to protect their ideas.

This is a quick overview of what each term means.  If you have an idea, a method, a name, a writing, a recording, a composition, an invention or anything similar, you need to consult with counsel to make sure you are taking proper steps to protect your intellectual property.

Copyright
A copyright (c) is a symbol to the world that the contents of the work are owned by a person or a company.  Copyrights are ordinarily used with the written word, like articles, books, blog posts, magazine, and others.  Copyrights are also applied to things like musical recordings, sheet music, lyrics, cds, dvds, movies, websites and others.  Copyrights can also apply to software and mobile applications.

Trademarks
Trademarks (TM) usually apply to names, logos and images.  The brand name “CocaCola” is trademarked and belongs to The Coca Cola Companies.  In the same vein, the apple with a bite out of it is a logo that belongs to Apple. Trademarks can also apply to event names, and names of publications and websites.

Patents
Patents apply to inventions and processes. Companies will seek patents for new drugs, new processes or methods for completing a series of tasks, and for new equipment.

There are two things to consider when thinking about intellectual property.

(1) Do you need to take any steps to protect yourself, your company and your ideas?
(2) Are you potentially violating someone else’s ownership rights?

(c) Kathy Davis at KJD Legal