Intellectual Property: The Basics

Intellectual Property 101

This infographic provides a simple summary of the information below. 


Are you a business owner? Have you protected your Logo? Your name? Your product?

This blog, and the blogs that follow will help you understand the basics of Intellectual Property, and how you can use the various types of Intellectual Property to your advantage. 

What is Intellectual Property?

Definition: a work or invention that is the result of creativity, such as a manuscript or a design, to which one has rights and for which one may apply for a patent, copyright, trademark, etc.

Intellectual Property = creations of the mind. 

What Do You Want to Protect?

Intellectual Property can be placed into a few different subcategories. You may be trying to protect a formula and/or a slogan; each subcategory in Intellectual Property protects different aspects of “creations of the mind”. The subcategories within Intellectual Property are as follows:

1) Copyright: 

Original works that are fixed and tangible. 

Some examples are poems, books, videos, etc.

2) Trademark or Servicemark

Product/Company name, slogan, logo, colors, etc. 

Some examples are Nike’s slogan “Just Do It” or the company name Apple.

*The primary difference between a TM and and SM relates to whether or not the mark is being used to identify a product, or a service. (e.g. Shoes or a CPA firm). 

3) Patent

Utilitarian devices that must be novel.

Some examples are software apps, pharmaceuticals, etc.

4) Right of Publicity: 

A person’s name, likeness, persona, and voice, such as Morgan Freeman’s voice.

5) Trade Secrets: 

Anything valuable and kept secret, like the famous Coca Cola formula or KFC recipe. Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA) are commonly used in pursuit of keeping this sort of Intellectual Property Secret. 

How Long Will You Be Protected? Or, How Long Until You’re Able to Use Someone Else’s Intellectual Property?

Each subcategory of Intellectual Property has it’s own unique length. With the exception of Right to Publicity, which is set by state law, all other subcategories of Intellectual Property are set by Federal Law. Below is a list for your reference. 

Copyright: From the point the creator dies + 70 years

Trademark: 10 years + easy renewal (so long as you are continuously using trademark)


—Design: 14 years

—Utility: 20 years

Right of Publicity: It varies from state to state. In Florida it is 40 years after the death 

Trade Secrets: Forever! (or as long as you can keep them a secret ;) 


The first step to protecting you and your businesses valuable Intellectual Property assets is knowing which subcategory fits your need best. If you are a business owner, or an entrepreneur, and you have questions about Intellectual Property, do not hesitate to Contact Us today for a free consultation. 

Credit to Scher Guzzo for the creation of the infographic, and assisting in the drafting of this blog post.