What is Intellectual property? Briefly explain the dimensions of Intellectual property

Question:  What is
Intellectual property? Briefly explain the dimensions of Intellectual property.


property is a broad categorical description for the set of 
assets owned and legally protected by a
company or individual from outside use or implementation without consent. An
intangible asset is a non-physical asset that a company or person owns.

There are only
three ways to protect intellectual property in the United States: through the
use of patents, trademarks, or copyrights. A patent applies to a specific product
design; a trademark to a name, phrase, or symbol; and a copyright to a written
document. All three methods have limitations–there’s no one perfect way to
protect an idea.


provides exclusive rights to creative individuals for the protection of their
literary or artistic productions. It is not possible to copyright an idea, but
the particular mode for expression of that idea often can be copyrighted. This
expression can take many forms, including books, periodicals, dramatic or
musical compositions, art, motion pictures, lectures, sound recordings, and
computer programs.


A copyright
will protect the following categories of works:

  • literary works
  • musical works, including any
    accompanying words
  • dramatic works, including any
    accompanying music
  • pantomimes and choreographic works
  • pictorial, graphic, and sculptural
  • motion pictures and other
    audiovisual works
  • sound recordings
  • architectural works
  • computer programs (sometimes the
    graphical user interface) and websites

Copyright protection gives
the copyright holder the exclusive right to copy the work, modify it (that is,
create “derivative works”), and distribute, perform, and display the
work publicly.

Ideas or
concepts do not have copyright protection. Copyright protects the expression of
the idea, but not the ideas themselves. For example, if I ask you what a chair
is, you get a picture in your head; the picture I get in my head is different
from the picture you get in your head and probably also different from the
picture Buffy gets in her head. These are the “ideas” of what a chair
is. However, if you were to draw the chair you envisioned in your head or use
words to describe that chair, it’s an “expression” of the idea–and
that’s what’s protected by copyright.

Generally, the
only protection for ideas and concepts is through trade secret law and/or
confidentiality agreements, which provide a contractual remedy for misuse or
disclosure of the idea.

B) Patents:

A patent
provides the owner with exclusive rights to hold, transfer, and license the
production and sale of the product or process. Design patents last for 14
years; all others last for 20 years. The objective of a patent is to provide
the holder with a temporary monopoly on his or her innovation and thus to
encourage the creation and disclosure of new ideas and innovations in the
marketplace. Securing a patent, however, is not always an easy process.

A patent is an
intellectual property right. It is the result of unique discovery, and patent
holders are provided protection against infringement by others. In general, a
number of items can qualify for patent protection, among them processes,
machines, products, plants, compositions of elements (chemical compounds), and
improvements on already existing items.

Securing a

For pursuing a
patent, the following basic rules are recommended by the experts:

Rule 1: Pursue patents that are broad, commercially significant and offer a strong position. This means that relevant patent law must be
researched in order to obtain the widest coverage possible on the idea or
concept. In addition, there must be something significantly novel or
proprietary about the innovation. Record all steps or processes in a notebook
and have them witnessed so that documentation secures a strong proprietary

Rule 2: Prepare a patent plan in detail. This plan should outline
the costs to

develop and
market the innovation as well as analyze the competition and

similarities to your idea. Attempt to detail the precise value of the

Rule 3: Have your actions relate to your original patent plan. This
does not mean a plan cannot be changed. However, it is wise to remain close to
the plan during the early stages of establishing the patent. Later, the path
that is prepared may change—for example, licensing out the patent versus
keeping it for yourself.

Rule 4: Establish an infringement budget. Patent rights are
effective only if potential infringers fear legal damages. Thus it is important
to prepare a realistic budget for prosecuting violations of the patent.

Rule 5: Evaluate the patent plan strategically. The typical patent
process takes three years. This should be compared to the actual life cycle of
the proposed innovation or technology.

These rules
relating to the proper definition, preparation, planning, and evaluation can help
entrepreneurs establish effective patent protection. In addition, they can help
the patent attorney conduct the search process.

C) Trademarks:

A trademark is
like a brand name. It is any word(s) or symbol(s) that represent a product to
identify and distinguish it from other products in the marketplace. A trademark
word example would be “Rollerblades.” A trademark symbol would be the
peacock used by NBC.

A trademark can
be registered in three ways:

  1. By filing a “use”
    application after the mark has been used.
  2. By filing an “intent to
    use” application if the mark has not yet been used.
  3. In certain circumstances in which a
    foreign application exists, you can rely on that.

The (TM) mark
may be used immediately next to your mark. The ® registration symbol may only
be used when the mark is registered with the PTO. It is unlawful to use this
symbol with your mark before receiving an issued registration from the PTO.

What qualities
make for a strong trademark? The cardinal rule is that a mark must be
distinctive. The more distinctive it is, the easier your trademark will be to
enforce. This is why so many trademarked products have unique spellings.

rights last indefinitely if the company continues to use the mark to identify
its goods or services. When the mark is no longer being used, the registration
is terminated. The initial term of federal trademark registration is 10 years,
with 10-year renewal terms.

D) Trade Secrets:

trade secret is a company’s process or practice that is not public information,
which provides an economic benefit or advantage to the company or holder of the
trade secret. Trade secrets must be actively protected by the company and are
typically the result of a company’s 
research and development.

Examples of trade secrets could be a
design, pattern, recipe, formula, Customer lists, plans, research and
development, pricing information, marketing techniques, and production
techniques, etc. are examples of potential trade secrets. Generally, anything
that makes an individual company unique and has value to a competitor could be a
trade secret.

Protection of trade
secrets extends both to ideas and to their expression. For this reason, and
because a trade secret involves no registration or filing requirements,
trade-secret protection is ideal for software. Of course, the secret formula,
method, or other information must be disclosed to key employees. Businesses
generally attempt to protect their trade secrets by having all employees who
use the process or information agree in their contracts never to divulge it.
Theft of confidential business data by industrial espionage, such as stealing a
competitor’s documents, is theft of trade secrets without any contractual
violation and is actionable in itself.