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Finding Intellectual Property Publications

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Mary Ries
211 Thompson Library
1858 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210-1285
Phone: 614-688-8770

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Finding Intellectual Property Publications

“The term intellectual property … broadly refers to property rights vested in … entities which have no physical form.”  There are essentially four types of intellectual property:  PatentsTrademarks/Service Marks/Trade DressCopyrights, and Trade Secrets.  They all provide protection and limited monopolies for different things.  Patents protect an invention, copyrights protect an original artistic or literary work, trademarks/service marks protect a product or service, and trade secrets protect company information used to gain a competitive edge.


patent protects a new and unique idea.  It is granted for a relatively short amount of time.  Protection is granted on a national level and is fairly strong.

trademark is a distinguishing word, phrase, symbol, design, etc. that identifies one company's goods from another.   A service mark is essentially the same but covers a service rather than goods.  Both are granted for an unlimited time, so long as they are actively used and the required fees are paid.  Trademarks and service marks have geographic boundaries, but have fairly strong legal protection.  Trade Dress deals with how a product, etc. is packaged.

The third type of Intellectual property is a copyright.  Copyright does not protect ideas, only their expression or fixation.  Copyright covers both published and unpublished works such as books, music, photographs, movies, computer programs, and works of art and architecture.  It confers protection for a limited amount of time, and is granted on a national level, and through treaties, etc. extended to an international level.  The amount of protection varies from geographical area to geographical area, from none to strong.

The final form of intellectual property is a trade secret.  A trade secret can consist of processes, methods, equipment, technical information, etc. which gives a company a competitive edge.  Like trademarks and service marks, protection is unlimited as long as the company can maintain it as a "secret".  There are no geographic boundaries associated with a trade secret.   It has relatively weak legal protection.

Further Reading

Intellectual Property Law & Legal Definition. (USLegal)

What is Intellectual Property? (Legal Match Law Library)

What is Intellectual Property? (World Intellectual Property Organization)