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Posted by: Maricopa Lawyers on Mar 29, 2016

If you’ve ever had a great idea for a product or have written the next great song or American novel, you may be curious about how intellectual property rights work. Intellectual Property refers to creations of the intellect over which the creator has exclusive rights for a certain period of time. Here’s a rundown of some of the different types of intellectual property.

Basics of Copyright Laws

When you copyright something, you have exclusive rights to it for a limited time. You can copyright a variety of creative, intellectual, or artistic “works,” such as books and other writings, musical compositions, paintings, sculptures, computer programs and films among others. Once you do, your rights are protected for a minimum of 50 years after your death. While the copyright doesn’t cover ideas and information themselves, it does cover the form or manner in which the ideas and information are expressed.

Other Types of Intellectual Property Rights

Patents. A patent is a right granted to an inventor, giving the patent owner the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering to sell, and importing an invention for a limited period of time. In order to file a patent on an invention, it must be new, not obvious and there needs to be an industrial use for the invention.

Design Rights. An industrial design right protects the visual design of objects that have value due to their aesthetics. An industrial design consists of the creation of a shape, configuration or composition of pattern or color, or combination of pattern and color in two- or three-dimensional form containing aesthetic value.

Trademarks. A trademark is a recognizable sign, design or which distinguishes products or services of a particular entity from the similar products or services of other traders. Think “Golden Arches.”

Trade Dress. Trade dress is a legal term that refers to the visual appearance of a product or packaging that signify the source of the product to consumers, such as a red box of french fries.

Trade Secrets. A trade secret is a formula, practice, process, design, instrument, pattern, or compilation of information which is not generally known or reasonably ascertainable, by which a business can obtain an economic advantage over competitors or customers. A secret recipe is an example of a trade secret.