Four types of Intellectual Property

Entrepreneurs and business owners need to understand the basics of the Intellectual Property law in order to protect their ideas and innovations from unfair competition.  There are four basic types of intellectual property that entrepreneurs should identify, and seek to protect their business.



Copyrights protect the original works of the author, such as literature, music, artworks and computer software. In this case, a person has the exclusive right to produce, modify or distribute his work.

Copyrights do not only protect concepts and ideas, but rather how these ideas are expressed. In general, the only way to protect ideas and concepts from theft is through the Trade Secrets Act or confidentiality agreements, which provide contractual solutions to the disclosure or the misuse of an idea.



Patents protect new and useful processes, methods, and innovations. When it is granted to a person, he obtains the right of monopoly for 20 years to sell, use, manufacture or import the invention into the country.

Patent protection requires full public disclosure of the work in details, which precludes the protection of trade secrets for the same work.



Trademarks include brand names and consist of any words or symbols that set apart a specific product from other products available in the market. The trademark can be registered by:

  • Filling out the “Use” application after the trademark has been used.
  • Filling out the “intent to use” application in case the trademark is not yet used.


It is worth noting that the protection rights of the trademark will continue indefinitely as long as the company uses this trademark to distinguish its products or services. In case        the company stops using the trademark, the registration shall be automatically terminated.

The term of protection is 10 years starting from the date of registration. It is renewable for other similar terms if renewal is requested during the last year of the protection term.


Trade Secrets

Numerous people mistake trade secrets for a type of protection that can be registered by government authorities in the state, and which enables them to resort to court and to take legal actions in case of infringement. Unlike copyrights, trademarks and patents, trade secrets are not registered by governmental authorities. However, any person can resort to a specialized patent attorney, and officially document a trade secret as a patent. In this case, he gains ownership of the trade secret until someone leaks it.


Usually, trade secrets refer to unique confidential business information that gives the company a competitive edge. The best way to protect these elements is to keep them secret, one of the most prominent examples of the most famous, buried trade secrets till now is the formula used by the trademark of Coca-Cola.

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