What are the 4 types of intellectual property? Do you have an original idea that you don’t want anyone to steal? Have you created something that came from your imagination and you’re afraid someone else might take it and claim it as their own?
Not to worry, if the idea or creation belongs entirely to you, then it is considered your intellectual property.
The more technical definition of intellectual property is the intangible assets that belong to an individual or company. This intellectual property is protected by law so that no one may use it without consent from the owner.
The idea is that while physical assets are protected, intellectual property should just as well be given the same protection. If someone steals your idea, it’s just as upsetting as when someone steals your phone.
Laws that protect intellectual property don’t exist everywhere. It’s actually a practice that only exists in developed countries. Fortunately, Singapore is one of those places that protect your intangible assets.
If you come up with a new invention, the first thing you should do is get it patented. A patent provides protection for an individual or company’s invention or discovery.
These can include a completely unique invention that has never been done before, or it can include a new method or process for how something works. That something can be a new and improved drug, machine, or article of manufacture.
Patents aren’t a one-time deal – the protection for your new invention or discovery only lasts for a limited time. However, it does give you control of who can make it, who can sell it, and even who can use it.
Keep in mind that when you have your invention patented, the designs or process will become a matter of public record. This is how people know whether or not an idea they have is original or not because the same design or method is patented on a first-come, first-serve basis.
For all the artists out there with their original works – this one is for you. Copyrights and patents are often confused or identified as the same thing, but copyrights protect authentic works of authorship. It is commonly associated with books, but it can apply to music, sound recordings, paintings, photographs, plays, and even computer software like video games.
Another thing that differs from copyrights from patents is that it is automatic – you don’t need to register your work. However, in the event that someone steals your ideas and you want to sue them, the proceedings will go a lot smoother if you register your copyright.
For copyrights, the intellectual property needs to consist of something tangible (physical) like the artwork, sheet music, novel, etc. You also don’t need to worry about time running out – for as long as you are alive, the copyright belongs to you (unless ownership was transferred).
If you or your company has a very unique slogan or symbol that represents your brand – then that’s your trademark. Anything associated with your brand, from the unique color scheme and symbol, to any slogan or phrase associated with your brand, to your brand’s name itself is a trademark.
All of these are protected by law as an intellectual property. Trademarks are meant to be unique and easily-identified in order to be distinguished from competing brands. A good example is the Nike logo and their “Just Do It” slogan.
The process of getting something trademarked includes a lot of research to make sure your symbol, slogan, etc isn’t already in use. After that, your trademark will last for 10 years. You can renew it after it expires, and it can remain yours for as long as it is in use.
For those who want to keep their ideas secret in order to maintain a competitive edge of others – those ideas are called trade secrets. Basically anything that falls under patents can fall under trade secrets too.
Recipes and formulas are also included here. In the event that the secrets are divulged to another individual, that individual would have to sign a non-disclosure agreement. This means that if they ever stole or revealed the secret to someone else, that individual can be sued for millions or billions of dollars.
While your trade secrets give you a competitive edge, the biggest downside revolve around the fact that someone else could come up with the same idea and have it patented. In the digital age, trade secrets can even be reverse-engineered from their products.
For this reason, many people still suggest choosing a patent over trade secrets.
When you come up with an incredibly brilliant idea, it is nice to know that the law can protect your idea from theft or forgery. Just make sure your intellectual property is properly registered.