Intellectual Property Basics

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Inventors, like writers and artists. transform ideas into tangible property. When this intellectual property qualifies under law, the creator is granted certain rights. For example, the owner of a patented invention can prevent others from making, using or selling the device, just as the author of a book can prevent others from copying it. After a time, these exclusive rights may be lost or taken from the owner and given to the public. For example, the patent on the original roller blade invention expired and companies are now free to copy the device. At the same time, copyright protection has ended for Mark Twain and anyone is free to copy his books Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Ownership of intellectual property is similar to ownership of other forms of property. For example, the owner of a home has the right to exclude others from trespassing or converting the property. The owner of intellectual property also has the right to exclude others from infringing or taking the property. The homeowner can lease, sell or transfer the home through a will. The intellectual property owner can license, sell or will the patent, copyright or trademark. And like the homeowner, the owner of intellectual property is subject to rules regarding government registration, recordation, abandonment and forfeiture. However, not all products of the mind can achieve protection under intellectual property law. Sometimes you will need an attorney’s help to recognize, preserve and protect these intellectual property rights. Intellectual property law includes copyrights, patents, trademarks and trade secrets. All of these disciplines recognize property that is created from the human mind.