The Business Plan

The first few months in the life of a project are crucial in turning an idea into a prototype, as that’s when an inventor will be raising financial support for his or her invention. The first step in securing funds is developing a business plan for a project. This not only tell investors what they will get out of the deal, but it also lets them know that the inventor is serious about moving his or her project forward. The more detail is put into a business plan, the more results it will yield.

Types of Intellectual Property

While there are many different types of intellectual property, from a legal standpoint in the United States, there are only four: patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Intellectual property must be registered in one of these four categories to claim any type of legal protection. Also, intellectual property must be registered with the state as well as federally. Once these precautions have been taken, the person or company that filed the claims can legally file a complaint with federal or state courts against infringers.

Protecting Intellectual Property

There are four basic ways to legally protect intellectual property: trade secrets, copyrights, trademarks and patents. Trade secrets are information, processes or formulas that allow a company to keeps its competitive advantage. Copyrights protect things like music, movies and books and guard against illegal duplication. Trademarks provide protection of distinct logos and symbols that represent products or businesses. Finally, patents are given to inventors for any machine, product or process that will benefit the public.

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property is defined as: “A product of the intellect that has commercial value, including copyrighted property, such as literary or artistic works, and ideational property, such as patents, appellations of origin, business methods, and industrial processes” (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, 2009).

Search for Prior Art

Applying for a patent on a new invention can be a very costly and time-consuming process, which makes it doubly frustrating to find out halfway through the process that an invention has already been invented. That’s why it’s important for inventors to perform a search for prior art. Prior art is a legal term applying to all information which has been made public up to a given date, which can have relevance to a current claim of originality. Searching for prior art can save inventors a lot of time and trouble in patenting inventions.

Register for a Copyright

Registering for a copyright is not a legal requirement in the United States for protection of a work, but it is still in an inventor’s best interest to do so. Registering for a copyright makes a claim public—no one can claim that they were unaware of the copyright. As such, registering for a copyright also gives a claimant legal ground to stand on when filing a lawsuit against someone who infringes upon the copyright and makes money off of it.

How to Use Copyrights

In order to receive credit for intellectual property, inventors have to protect their creations. The most effective way to accomplish this is to copyright the work. A copyright protects original works, such as literature, music and artwork. It does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation—only the way they are expressed. A copyright will stop others from adapting, performing, reproducing or publicly displaying or distributing the work.

History of Copyright Law

Copyright law was first introduced in Britain following the widespread use of the printing press and the subsequent expansion of public literacy in the early eighteenth century. The first real copyright act was the Statute of Anne in 1709, which gave an author the rights to his or her piece for a fixed period before they expired. 1887 saw the formation of the first international treaty regarding copyright: the Berne Convention. It is still in effect today.