Intellectual Property

Intellectual property (abbreviated IP) refers to anything created with original thought and belongs to the person who created it. Unlike physical property, destroying intellectual property doesn t extinguish the creator s ownership rights. The United States government works to protect intellectual property, especially in recent decades. Three common forms of intellectual property are copyright, patent, and trademark, all of which the government protects.


Copyright protects creative work such as literature, music, visual art, and technology. Though it does not cover thoughts or ideas, it does cover any fixed expression of them, according to current United States copyright law. The work s creator retains the right to extend use to any third parties. Though copyright does eventually expire (and the works move into the public domain), current US law extends copyright protection for 70 years after the creator s death.


Patents protect inventions, including machines, designs, softwares, or applications. Only patent users are permitted to use and sell their invention, unless they extend those rights to others. In that case, they must publish a document that states how their invention can legally be used.


Trademarks are graphic or physical items designed to distinguish companies and brands. This also extends to specific marketing slogans. Trademarks help companies brand and market themselves more strongly and give customers better assurance. Trademarking also gives companies more financial stability.

Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

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