What is the difference between Copyrights, Patents and Trade Secrets?

Copyrights, patents, and trademarks are all types of intellectual property which may be protected by law. The United States Constitution gives US Congress the power to issue intellectual property rights to “promote the progress of sciences and arts.” Copyrights protect work that can be reduced to writing and/or recorded–books, plays, music, lyrics, television shows, etc. Patents protect inventions and processes. Trademarks protect marks such as drawings, phrases and logos that identify a particular business or product. (More on the differences between copyrights, patents, and trademarks here.) Copyrights, patents, and trademarks may all be registered with the government, providing their owners the ability to stop others from unauthorized copying or use.

Protecting intellectual property is key if you are running a business, especially if the business is a tech startup. If you have a product, for example, you are going to want to secure any patents and trademarks as soon as possible, even if your product is just in the testing stages. If you don’t have a product, but are providing a service, it is still important to register any trademarks associated with your company.

trade secret is information that is proprietary to a business. A trade secret’s value is derived from the fact that that it is not publicly known, thereby helping a business maintain a competitive edge in whatever industry it is operating. Trade secrets are usually protected by contract rather than by registration with the government.

If you are trying to acquire intellectual property rights or are interested in protecting business’s proprietary information as a trade secret, I suggest you speak with an attorney. If you are looking for an experienced IP attorney or just have more questions, visit LawTrades. Our legal platform offers free