A patent is a government grant of "exclusionary rights"
for a specified number of years. There are three types of
patents. A utility patent is for new and useful processes,
machines, manufactured products, and compositions of matter
(including chemical compositions, new organisms and the like).
A design patent is for the ornamental design of a useful object.
A plant patent is for a new variety of living plant. Contrary
to popular understanding, a patent is not a grant to practice
the invention, design or plant cultivation; the grant focuses
solely on excluding the acts of others.
A trademark or service mark is a word, number, design, logo
or a combination of any of these, that is used to identify
the source of goods or services. By definition, trademarks
and service marks are used in commerce in conjunction with
goods or services offered for sale to others.
Though registration is not always required, many valuable
rights can be secured by registering trademarks and service
marks in the region where the marks are used.
Books, plays, software, music, sculptures, paintings, prints,
photographs, motion pictures, recordings, architectural works,
and other tangible forms of expression of an author or artist
are protected by copyright. A copyright arises at the moment
of creation, and prohibits the copying of a work without authorization
by the author. Copyright does not protect the ideas or concepts
which underlie the work; it protects only the manner in which
the ideas and concepts are expressed. In some countries, including
the United States, registration may be required before the
copyright can be enforced.
Integrated circuit masks and the products made from them are
protectable under the Copyright Act as "mask works"
and "semi-conductor chip products." Registration
within two years of first commercial use is required to obtain
Generally, a trade secret is information that is both "secret"
(not generally known in the trade or readily discernible)
and commerically valuable to its owner. Typical trade secrets
include secret recipes, compositions of matter, formulas,
processes, patterns, devices, or compilations of information
such as customer lists and business plans. Trade secrets can
be lost when the owner does not protect the confidentiality
of the information, or when a third party independently develops
the information and makes it public. Trade secrets are primarily
protected under state law. However, the Federal Economic Espionage
Act of 1996 (EEA) makes criminal the interstate theft of certain
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