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Thinking of protecting your intellectual property?

Your ideas, concepts and inventions are known as intellectual property. Federal laws are in place to protect all your creative ideas and concepts, letting you protect your intellectual property by filing for copyrights, trademarks or patents.

Copyrights protect original creations like books, movies, music, photographs and software. It only protects specific works that have been registered; if another person finds a loophole and does something similar to your work, a copyright might not be able to protect it. Having a copyright gives you exclusive rights to produce, sell and distribute your work. You may also lease your copyrights to someone else, which gives them exclusive rights as well.

Trademarks give identity to goods and services. They distinguish them from other businesses that are doing similar work. For example, the large 'M' is a trademark for McDonald's and separates it from other fast food chains. Other businesses cannot use that trademarked symbol to market their products. Problems may arise if another business uses your trademark because it confuses the consumer and might reduce your market share.

Patents provide federal protection to your inventions at the most basic level. Patents encourage thinkers to innovate by giving them exclusive rights to produce and sell their invention. Patents might be misused by third parties to generate income through litigation. There are three types of patents: utility patents, design patents and plant patents.

When looking for ways to protect your intellectual property, you might want to consider hiring an experienced attorney. The attorney will be able to give you advice and help you file for federal protection according to intellectual property laws.

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