How Do I Protect My Intellectual Property?
Intellectual property (IP) can be a foundation for significant monetary rewards. Yet, it is vital to set up adequate protections when it has that kind of value. As technology evolves, safeguarding IPs is more complex than ever.
A copyright is used to protect written and artistic work. Once enacted, it lasts for the creator’s entire life and 70 years afterward. Copyrights are generally used for song lyrics, recordings, novels, photographs, paintings, and other original works. Owners have exclusive, enhanced rights and can enforce these against infringement. This might involve litigation, and owners may be able to receive monetary compensation and coverage for attorney fees in lawsuits.
Trademarks apply to logos, symbols, words, and phrases related to goods and services. These registrations often have no expiration dates but must be renewed once every 10 years.
Patents differ from copyrights and trademarks because they cover unique products, like equipment, machines, and chemical compositions. Unless you provide permission, these prevent other parties from creating and distributing your IP. Generally, IP patents last from 15 to 20 years after the paperwork is filed. Your patent will provide absolute ownership, so others cannot profit from your efforts. As a patent holder, you can grant licenses to third parties. Still, you may be entitled to damages if another party uses your patented invention without your permission.
There are three kinds of patents:
- Utility: These offer 20 years of powerful protection for various inventions – everything from an ergonomic desk chair to a complicated business process.
- Plant: Plant patents are for unique plants like a newly created and successful hybrid rose bush. These patents are effective for 20 years after being filed.
- Design: These 15-year-long patents apply to a product’s ornamental exterior or appearance; one example is the original Coca-Cola bottle.
How Do I Know if My Idea Is Patentable?
To qualify as patentable, your IP must meet specific requirements that conform to U.S. patent laws. It must be noticeably different from previous patents and valuable. Getting a patent is not inexpensive, but it can save you money and help you earn more in the long run. Depending on the type of patent you apply for, completion can take about six to 22 months.
Other Ways to Protect IP
If a patent, copyright, or trademark does not meet your needs, you can protect your IP in other ways:
- Non-disclosure agreement
- Proprietary information agreement
- Secrecy agreement
- Confidential disclosure agreement
An Ocean City Business Lawyer at Oliveri & Larsen Can Help You Choose the Best Way to Protect Your IP
Many options exist for protecting IP, but which is right for you? Contact a skilled Ocean City business lawyer at Oliveri & Larsen for a confidential consultation. Call us at 410-295-3000 or complete our online form today. Located in Annapolis, Maryland, we serve clients in Ocean City, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Baltimore City, Calvert County, Harford County, Howard County, Queen Anne’s County, St. Mary’s County, Worcester County, Kent County, and the upper and lower Eastern Shores of Maryland.