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  • Writer's pictureTodd

What are the different types of Intellectual Property (IP)?

One of the most common misconceptions I have seen is that all intellectual property is the same. I have seen journalists and even judges use the words patent, copyright, and trademark interchangeably. There is also a fourth different type of intellectual property that often gets left out, trade secrets.


Trademark law protects source identifiers, such as logos, names, slogans, trade dress, packaging design, and scents if they meet certain restrictions and requirements. When you assert trademark rights for your business, you are informing informs others that you are selling goods or services under that source identifier. This prevents other businesses from confusing the public by using source identifier to sell their goods or services.


Some well-known examples of logos that are protected by trademark law are the Nike Swoosh for shoes, the Chevrolet Bowtie for vehicles, and the Golden Arches for McDonald’s. These trademarks identify the source of the goods in this case. So, you could not start a shoe company and put the Nike logo on them, because that would confuse consumers as to the origin of the goods.


Copyright law protects works such as music, art, books, articles, software, movies, etc. Copyright law prevents you from making copies of the latest Marvel movie, for example, and selling them. If you’re an artist who paints, copyright protects others from copying your work and selling it without your authorization. Copyright is different from trademark.


Patent law protects inventions. If you are an inventor, patent law can help protect your creations. Patent is different from trademark and copyright.


Trade secrets protect things such as the Coca-Cola recipe. This is also different from the other types of intellectual property.


Please note that the information contained in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and not as specific legal advice. The facts of your situation may differ from this general information. It is not intended to and does not in any way establish an attorney-client relationship.

If you wish to schedule a consultation, let’s work together on your trademark needs

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