1. Intellectual property law
  2. Overview of intellectual property law
  3. Types of intellectual property protected under law

Overview of Intellectual Property Law and Types of Protection

Learn about the different types of intellectual property law and the protection available for them.

Overview of Intellectual Property Law and Types of Protection

Intellectual property (IP) law is an ever-evolving field that seeks to protect the rights of creators and innovators. It grants exclusive rights to creators, allowing them to benefit financially from their works and ideas. IP law covers a range of protections, including patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets. In this article, we will provide an overview of intellectual property law and the various types of protection it provides. Intellectual property law helps protect the rights of creators and innovators.

This article will provide an overview of the types of intellectual property law and the different forms of protection available for each. The main types of intellectual property are copyrights, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets. Each type of IP protection has different requirements and benefits.


are a form of legal protection that covers original works of authorship such as music, literature, art, software, and other creative works. Copyright laws give authors the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, or license their work.

Copyright protection typically lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years.


are words, symbols, designs, or combinations thereof used to identify and distinguish goods or services from one source to another. Trademarks can be registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to provide additional protection. Registered trademarks are protected from infringement in all 50 states and receive additional benefits including nationwide priority and damages for infringement.


are a form of legal protection that grants inventors exclusive rights to make, use, and sell their invention.

Patents can be obtained for inventions such as machines, processes, compositions of matter, or improvements on existing products or processes. Patents last for a limited time (typically 20 years) and can be renewed by paying fees to the USPTO.

Trade Secrets

are confidential information that provides a competitive advantage to the owner. Examples of trade secrets include formulas, recipes, techniques, processes, or other business information that is not generally known to the public. Trade secrets can be protected indefinitely as long as they remain secret.

Trade Secret Protection

Trade secret protection is a form of intellectual property law that safeguards proprietary information from being disclosed without permission.

Trade secrets can include manufacturing processes, formulas, patterns, programs, devices, techniques, or customer lists. Trade secret protection allows companies to keep their competitive edge by keeping sensitive information from being revealed to their competitors. The key to protecting trade secrets is maintaining confidentiality. Companies can take measures to keep the information confidential such as restricting access to the information, using non-disclosure agreements with employees and customers, marking confidential documents, and storing the information securely.

If a trade secret is disclosed without permission, the owner may be able to recover damages from those responsible. The duration of trade secret protection depends on the measures taken to protect the information. If the company takes reasonable steps to maintain confidentiality, the trade secret may remain protected indefinitely.

Trademark Protection

Trademark protection is an important form of intellectual property law that helps creators and innovators protect the brand or logo associated with their products or services. A trademark is a distinctive mark, symbol, word, phrase, or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of products or services from those of others.

Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), allowing the owner to have exclusive rights to use the mark for a specific period of time. Generally, a trademark must be distinctive to be eligible for registration. This means that it must be unique and not likely to be confused with any other mark. It can be a word, phrase, logo, slogan, or combination of these elements.

It can also be a sound, shape, color, or combination of these elements. To be eligible for registration, the mark must also be used in commerce in connection with goods or services. Once registered, trademark protection lasts for 10 years and can be renewed indefinitely as long as the mark is used in commerce in connection with goods or services. Trademarks can also be protected through common law by using the ™ symbol to indicate that a trademark is being claimed.

Common law protection does not provide as much legal protection as registration does, but it can still give the owner certain rights.

Copyright Protection

Copyright protection is a form of intellectual property law that helps protect the rights of authors, creators, and innovators. Copyright protection safeguards the intangible ideas or expressions of creative works, such as books, songs, paintings, photographs, movies, and software. It prevents others from copying, distributing, performing, or publicly displaying the work without permission from the copyright holder. Copyright protection is granted automatically upon creation of a work and typically lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years.

The types of works that are eligible for copyright protection include literary works, musical works, dramatic works, artistic works, and other types of creative works. Literary works include fiction and non-fiction books, plays, poems, articles, song lyrics, and computer programs. Musical works include songs and accompanying music. Dramatic works include plays or musicals.

Artistic works include paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, and architectural plans. The copyright holder has exclusive rights to do the following: reproduce the work; prepare derivative works based on the work; distribute copies of the work; display or perform the work publicly; and control the digital transmission of the work. It is important to note that copyright protection does not extend to ideas or facts; only the expression or tangible form of an idea is protected. Additionally, copyright protection does not cover titles or short phrases; these are generally considered trademarks.

Patent Protection

Patent protection is one of the most important forms of intellectual property law. It grants exclusive rights to inventors to their creations, allowing them to prevent others from using, making, or selling their inventions.

Patents are typically granted for inventions that are new and non-obvious, and typically last for 20 years from the date of filing. Examples of inventions that can be patented include machines, processes, manufactures, and chemical compositions. Patent protection can be a powerful tool for protecting a business’s interests and investments in research and development. To obtain a patent, inventors must apply to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) with their invention description and supporting documentation. Once the USPTO determines that the invention meets the criteria for patentability, a patent will be granted.

The patent will give the inventor exclusive rights to use, make, and sell their invention in the United States. The patent will also prevent others from using, making, or selling the patented invention without the inventor's permission. It is important to note that patents only protect inventions in the United States. To protect an invention in other countries, inventors must file separate patent applications in those countries. Additionally, patents are only enforceable within the geographic boundaries of the United States.

Therefore, if someone uses a patented invention outside of the United States, they may not be held liable for infringement. This article has provided an overview of the different types of intellectual property law and the protections available for each. Copyright, Trademark, Patent, and Trade Secret Protection are all forms of IP law that can help protect creators and innovators. It is important to note that each type of IP protection requires specific requirements and has different benefits. Therefore, it is important to consult with a qualified attorney when seeking IP protection.

Brady Sandra
Brady Sandra

Unapologetic social media practitioner. Friendly music ninja. Incurable beer maven. Amateur twitter specialist. Freelance web maven. Avid coffee geek.