Most businesses, big or small, make it a priority to protect their assets. Their employees, their building, their equipment – it’s all insured in some way. But, what about those unique assets that differentiate the company? This is where intellectual property comes in.
First off, what is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual Property refers to the tangible and intangible objects that are a result of an idea, concept, design, etc. This can range from creative projects such as art, music and stories to business ventures such as products and knowledge of plans or strategy. What makes intellectual property unique is its inclusion of these intangible objects that do ultimately produce profitable, tangible objects.
Intellectual property usually falls under one of three legal types: a patent, copyright or trademark. Each provides a different definition and allows you to protect and own your intellectual property in different ways. Let’s learn the difference.
A Patent is normally used to protect a profitable invention. It gives the inventor or group of inventors the right to make, use or sell their concept/design/product on their terms, which provide them with the ability to block others from doing so. The patent gives full ownership and control to the inventor, but in order to obtain a patent the invention must be publicly disclosed. You can’t patent a secret invention.
A Copyright commonly protects creative assets such music, literature, or art. Unlike the patent, a copyright does not cover an idea or concept, but rather how the idea or concept is brought to life. You can’t copyright a concept for a book, but you are able to copyright a book. A copyright controls how, and by whom, your work is copied and distributed.
A Trademark is most often used for branding purposes. It protects the symbol, phrase associated with a product or service from a particular business aka trader. A trademark is ultimately the key to establishing your business. It adds value, legitimacy and solidifies your brand.
While these are the three most seen types of intellectual property, businesses often encounter one more. Outside of the main three, but still just as important, is a trade secret.
A Trade Secret encompasses things very specific to your business such as a process, practice, formula or information that holds economic value. This can be information such as merger plans and organization changes or a unique production process.
So, what happens when a copyrighted song is illegally used or a trade secret is spilled? This act is called Infringement, and HRO Resources can help protect yourself against it! Learn more about our insurance and the intellectual property coverage we provide.