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Posted by: Maricopa Lawyers on Nov 20, 2013

Entrepreneurs and small business owners around the country are faced with the problem and difficulty of protecting their product, logo, design or idea at the start of their endeavor, and as technology continues to advance and online identity becomes more and more difficult to keep safe, small business owners are faced with some fairly daunting tasks to keep themselves and their businesses safe.

Intellectual Property is anything of a business owner’s mind or intellect. Whether it’s a services, idea, process, or product, it belongs to the creator and is thus the creator’s Intellectual Property. If business owners fail to protect any of these products of intellect, they may lose their idea to a larger competitor in a better position to mass produce or commercialize it at a much more affordable price. This leaves the original creator out a lot of money and a lot of time.

There are, however, many ways for small business owners and entrepreneurs to protect themselves against larger corporations looking to steal the next big idea. Types of Intellectual Property protection include patents, copyright, and trademarks.

Patents are typically government issued licenses granting a right or title for a agreed upon period of time. It protects inventors and business owners against others making, using, or selling the invention under patent. According to the United States  Patent and Trademark Office, patents “’exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States’ for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted.”

Copyright credits creative projects by giving them automatic rights for artistic works including literary, dramatic, and musical projects and within those aspects also includes things like photographs, paintings, drawings, manuals, brochures and circulars, announcements, films, forms, factsheets, computer programs, broadcasts, reports and studies, advertising layouts/slogans, etc. Applying for a copyright is as easy as heading over to the United States Copyright Office website.

A trademark uses “any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination” used to identify one specific business. Another term associated with trademark is “service mark,” which is actually the same as a trademark, but identifies the source of a service rather than distinguishing the actual product itself. In summary, patents protect an actual invention, a copyright protects an “original artist or literary work, and trademarks and service marks are used to identify a specific business/the source of a service.