Navigating Different Intellectual Property Protections

Posted by on Jul 12, 2013

You now have a business and with it, a whole lot of ideas on how to brand it, market it, and make big waves in the industry. But how do you navigate the different types of intellectual property regimes to go about protecting your ideas?

There are three (technically four if you count trade secrets, but we’ll cover that in a future post) intellectual property regimes that are available to you, provided that your idea meets the provisions. They are patents, copyright, and trademark, and each regime is codified to provide you a different protection for each one of your ideas.

So, to see how these regimes work together and separately to help protect your ideas, let’s start by hypothesizing that Henri, the owner of Gloobatain, an haute couture shoe line known for its technologically-advanced cushioned soles, is looking to protect his years of monetary investment and creative ingenuity by hiring a lawyer to make the necessary filings.

Assuming that the “technologically-advanced cushioned soles” are a new and novel idea, Henri could file for a patent that would give him an exclusive right to practice the patent and exclude all others for a period of twenty years. Additionally, assuming that on some of Henri’s shoes, there is a printed pattern or a design that can be separated from the shoe’s function, that pattern or separated design can be protected by copyright law.

Lastly, for a review of trademark law, the name “Gloobatain,” and any other signature design on the shoe (e.g., a bow, a color, or beads) that can indicate source are all protected by trademark for as long as it is used in commerce.

Trademark is clearly one way to protect your brand, but not the only way and a holistic understanding of how all the intellectual property regimes work together and side-by-side will better help you propel your business.