Trademarks, Copyrights, Patents 101

Every company takes action to protect its intellectual property (IP), which is its innovation / inventions, its unique products and/or services, its novel thinking and technological development about how to solve a problem through a product, and its unique brand in the marketplace.  Your “intellectual assets” will be what differentiates your company in the market.

Close-up of a Gear

Three of the most common ways to protect the IP of a company are through patents, trademarks and copyrights. The following are basic definitions of each one:

Patent – protects the new or novel idea of a product or invention, laying claim to ownership of the innovation, so that others cannot copy it or steal it to the detriment of your business

Trademark – protects the name of your company and the names of your products and services in the marketplace, so that others cannot steal the use of your brand name and product names.

Copyrights – protects works of original authorship, including images, text, stories, etc.  

It is recommended that you consult a lawyer with intellectual property experience, but the following are additional resources to help you delve deeper into IP when the time is right for you after you have incorporated your company.  


TechCrunch – “Startup Law A to Z: Intellectual Property”

Entrepreneur’s tips for startups to form an IP strategy

Forbes’s 10 intellectual property strategies for technology startups