Many people generally understand the concept of intellectual property (IP) but are unclear as to the differences among the types of IP so I thought I’d provide a short overview of each. A trademark is a mark including words and/or symbols that identifies a product and its source. A servicemark identifies a service. These are typically brand names and logos that are connected with a product or service and helps consumers identify quality. McDonald’s golden arches is a trademark. A copyright is the protection granted to an author or artist to have exclusivity for a period of time in copying, publishing and selling the work. We see examples of copyright protection with books, music, and artwork. A trade secret is something used in a business that provides an advantage over competitors who may not have access to that something. It may be a formula, pattern, process, or list of customers. Coca-Cola’s formula is an example. A patent is the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention for a period of time. Drug companies typically hold patents on the formulas for their drugs.

Author: Michelle Bomberger, Bellevue Business Attorney