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 San Jose Business & Commercial Law Blog

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San Jose Business & Commercial Law Blog

4 types of intellectual property

The ideas upon which you created your business likely act as the foundation for its success. As your company continues to grow, you, your partners and your employees have undoubtedly come up with numerous new ideas that have helped your business continue to flourish. A simple idea could easily turn into a tremendous business opportunity when given the right circumstances.

Because ideas, trade secrets, inventions and other similar areas can play major roles in how well a business performs, you certainly want to keep that information protected. If competitors get hold of such knowledge, they could easily use it against you and for their own benefit. However, if someone steals your intellectual property for such gain, you may have reason to pursue legal action.

What counts as intellectual property?

In some cases it may prove difficult to determine what falls into the category of intellectual property as it is not always tangible. In legal terms, four different types of intellectual property exist that could warrant prosecution if stolen. Those categories include:

  • Trade secrets: Most business owners know that trade secrets can allow them to have a leg up on competitors. Trade secrets could range from formulas or inventions to data records. However, you must prove that this secret directly benefits your company and that it is not common knowledge.
  • Trademarks: Another type of intellectual property relates to trademarks. These items typically become directly associated with a particular company, and the use of trademarked images, names or phrases by another business could harm your company's reputation.
  • Patents: If you or someone who works for your company comes up with an idea for a product, patenting that idea and the subsequent product could help protect it from being used by competitors.
  • Copyright: When you have information copyrighted, you protect your ability to express an idea in a certain way, such as with books or movies. However, the idea itself does not gain protection.

If your company has property that falls into any of these categories, you may have the right to pursue legal action if someone steals such property.

How can you take action?

Luckily, rather than having to sit back and watch a competitor use your hard work and ideas to better their own company, you could file a lawsuit for intellectual property theft. This type of action could help protect your company's ideas and ensure that your business does not face unnecessary detriment.

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