What is IP Law?

Our legal system provides certain rights and protections for owners of property. The kind of property that results from the fruits of mental labor is called intellectual property. Rights and protections for owners of intellectual property are based on federal patent, trademark and copyright laws and state trade secret laws.

In general:

  • Patents protect inventions of tangible things
  • Copyrights protect various forms of written and artistic expression
  • Trademarks protect a name or symbol that identifies the source of goods or services.

It is important to note that patents, trademarks, and copyrights constitute the basis on which the underlying intellectual property may be protected in law. It is therefore vital that a great degree of skill be exercised in drafting the documents and following the procedures necessary for obtaining this protection.

By relying on a specialist in the field who has good standing and recognized ability in his profession, the inventor or artist can be assured that the intellectual property will be adequately protected.

​Trade secret law is not addressed here. The details of this law, the protection provided, and the liability for unauthorized use or disclosure depends upon the State within which the reader resides.

The law varies from State to State. However, the reader should know that a trade secret may consist of any formula, pattern, device or compilation of information which is used in one's business and which gives him an opportunity to obtain an advantage over competitors who do not know or use it. (Restatement of Torts 757)