United States law recognizes four distinct forms of intellectual property and provides the originators of each an opportunity to gain financially from their inventions. The protections afforded patents and copyrights originate from the Constitution, which encourages a limited monopoly on inventions, creations, and discoveries to promote scientific innovation and art.
Individuals and businesses can secure intellectual property rights by obtaining one of the following:
1. A patent. Available for systems, methods or processes, patents offer exclusive short-term rights (lasting 20 years) to the inventor. In that time, nobody else can utilize the patent unless authorized by its holder.
2. A copyright. Works of art (including books, music, and software code) can enjoy copyright protection that lasts for the duration of the creator’s life plus 70 years. After that time, the work enters the public domain.
3. A trademark. Infinitely renewable provided they continue to be used, trademarks include colors, sounds, and images that designate a specific source of a good or service.
4. A trade secret. This consists of information used in business and kept secret that yields financial benefits for whomever has access.
About Harvey Siskind
Based in San Francisco, Harvey Siskind LLP represents clients in intellectual property litigation matters that involve trade secrets, trademarks, and copyrights. The firm counts among its clients individual artists and creators as well as Fortune 500 corporations.