Protecting Your Business Intellectual Property

Introduction

Rayan F. Coutinho, Ph.D.The short answer to the question, “How do I patent my company logo?” is you cannot do it! Intellectual property laws in the United States are divided into at least three main groups: (1) patent law, (2) trademark and unfair competition law, and (3) copyright law. The body of law that protects your company’s logo is trademark and unfair competition law. In the United States, intellectual property is largely governed by federal law. However, each state has some limited protections for certain types of intellectual property as well. Each type of intellectual property has its own set of rights, requirements, and rules about what is in the public domain, or not eligible for protection. Most engineers have a basic understanding of each of these categories of intellectual property. Today, however, protection of intellectual property increasingly cuts across categorical lines. For example, if you are a manufacturer of CAM/CAD software, you should at least be aware of the interactions between trade secret, copyright, trademarks, patent, and antitrust areas of the law. The goal of this series of articles is to provide such an understanding to fellow engineers. This article provides an overview of the various categories of intellectual property. Over the course of the next several mailings, we will look into some of these areas in greater detail.

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