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Protecting Your Rights Personalized and Knowledgeable Legal Representation

Tell the world your ideas, but protect your rights to them first

Did you know you could own your ideas? You may have heard the words "intellectual property," but don't really understand what they mean. Intellectual property encompasses the ideas and concepts you have that make your business unique.

Here in the United States, you can legally protect your rights to those concepts and ideas using patents, copyrights and trademarks. Each has its own benefits and limitations, but that should not keep you from seeking to protect your rights under one or more of these methods.

Patents

Patents provide you protections for your inventions, processes (usually technical or industrial) and methods. In order to receive a patent, these must be useful, novel and not obvious. A patent lasts 20 years. You must fully disclose your work when you apply for and receive a patent, so that work cannot receive protections as a trade secret.

Copyrights

Written documents may receive copyright protection. Your ideas cannot receive a copyright, but your expression of them can. Examples of copyright material include the following:

  • Computer programs and websites
  • Literary works
  • Architectural works
  • Music and lyrics
  • Sounds recordings
  • Dramatic works and music
  • Audiovisual works including motion pictures
  • Choreographic works and pantomimes
  • Sculptural, pictorial and graphic works

A copyright would give you the exclusive right to do the following with your work:

  • Copy it
  • Modify it
  • Display it
  • Perform it
  • Distribute it

The ideas and concepts associated with your copyrighted material fall under trade secrets or confidentiality agreements.

Trademarks

Any words or symbols that identify your business and its products and distinguish them from others may be trademarks. Think of a trademark as your brand name. For example, "Rollerblades" are a trademarked product and NBC's peacock distinguishes it from other networks. You can register a trademark in the following ways:

  • File an "intent to use" application
  • File a "use" application
  • Rely on the existence of a foreign application

Your trademark should have distinctive and unique features. The more it does, the greater your chances of receiving a trademark and protecting it.

Trade secrets

Trade secrets do not get registered anywhere. These processes, such as recipes, make your product unique. You can guard your trade secrets in a couple of ways. You may benefit from a discussion of the best way to do so for your situation with an intellectual property attorney.

Seek help to protect your intellectual property

These intangible assets could greatly enhance the value and success of your business. Knowing how to best protect the intellectual property of your business can present you with a significant challenge. A Florida attorney who routinely helps other businesses and individuals make these determinations could prove invaluable.

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