Intellectual property (IP) refers to an innovative and original product of human intelligence, creativity and/or mental labour that has some market value, and therefore calls for protection under the law. IP is usually non-material, like ideas, logos, literary works, inventions, and names of services, products or companies. The owners of these non-material things have exclusivity on those and can manufacture or use it in any way, provided they are protected through appropriate IP rights. Thus, it becomes crucial that a company opts for intellectual property protection – to safeguard its intangible assets.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the government authority responsible for registering patents, trademarks and designs, and the United States Copyright Office administers copyright registration in the USA. The USPTO leads efforts to develop and fortify both domestic and international IP protection. It advises the President – through the Secretary of Commerce – and all federal agencies on national and international IP policy issues, including IP protection abroad. It is also authorized to provide advice, carry out programs and studies, and interact with IP offices internationally on matters pertaining to IP.
Intellectual Property Protection in the USA
The USA has provisions for protection of IP via the following means:
A trademark is a symbol which differentiates a company from others. It could be a logo or brand name. The USA follows a first-to-use rule for obtaining trademark rights, implying that if there is a dispute between two parties over a trademark, whoever used it first commercially shall own its right, even if they did not register it first. However, to better protect your trademark, you should consider registering it through the USPTO. The USPTO requires trademark applicants to provide very specific descriptions of goods and services for which protection is being sought.
A patent is the exclusive right to an invention in all fields of technology. The USA is a signatory to the international Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). Applications filed through the PCT can seek patent protection with the USPTO. In the USA, 3 kinds of patents are available:
- Utility Patent: For new inventions or processes [lasts 20 years from the date of application]
- Design Patent: For the ornamental design of a functional item, particularly in the domain of industrial design [lasts 15 years from the date of application]
- Plant Patent: For the invention or discovery of a new plant strain [lasts 20 years from the date of application]
A copyright grants the author of a literary, scientific or artistic work the exclusive right to avail the work to the public and reproduce it. One can register for the protection of copyright through the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress. The registration of copyright is not compulsory but is a prerequisite to the filing of a lawsuit for the infringement of copyright.
4. Trade Secret
A trade secret refers to any valuable business information that is not generally known and is subject to reasonable efforts to preserve its confidentiality. It can be a formula, method, compilation, pattern, program, device, technique or process. Unlike the other types of intellectual property, a trade secret cannot be safeguarded by registering it. Instead, its protection lasts only as long as its disclosure is controlled. Companies employ non-disclosure agreements, restricted access to confidential information, post-employment restrictive covenants, and other security practices to protect trade secrets.
Benefits of Intellectual Property Services
- An intellectual property registration adds great value to business authenticity. By filing an IP, a businessperson gets the legal right to ownership of the IP, and the right to prevent others from using the IP without permission.
- An IP enables one to protect one’s market share by preventing impostors from using the same concept or idea.
- An IP can be licensed to third parties for commercial returns.
- An IP can be sold for an amount or even used to raise equity for a business.
As a specialist firm, Business Setup Worldwide offers a wide range of intellectual property protection services in the USA. Our team comprises intellectual property lawyers and trademark registration consultants, to facilitate the IP protection process for you. IP protection is about aligning one’s intangible assets with the corporate law of the land – and we at Business Setup Worldwide are well-equipped to do that for your company.