Defining intellectual property

As business markets expand and information sharing proliferates, the question of what exactly is it that your company owns becomes more important than ever. Many clients in Daytona Beach have come to us here at Smith Bigman Brock with this very question, and oftentimes coming up with an answer proves difficult. There are undoubtedly unique aspects of your company that contribute to its competitive advantage; you of course want to ensure that those aspects are protected as your business’ intellectual property (thus guaranteeing that they cannot be shared with or duplicated by others). Yet what exactly counts as IP? 

The World Intellectual Property Organization defines IP as “creations of the mind.” Such a definition seems to leave much room for interpretation, yet fortunately the WIPO goes on to define it further. It identifies two distinct types of IP. The first is copyrighted material. This covers music, films, books and artistic works. Your business may or may not produce its own copyrighted material, but it may manage that of others, thus making the need to identify instances where it is being infringed important. 

The second type of IP recognized by the WIPO is industrial property. This includes: 

  • Patents for inventions
  • Trademarks
  • Geographical indications

The common thread between these is that they are tangible. Comparisons between industrial property are typically much more “black-and-white”: either the copied material is or is not the IP. 

Designs can be a grey area. Generally, industrial and architectural designs can be considered IP, yet court rulings have (in the past) limited IP protection only to the chattels embodying it. You can learn more about identifying and protecting your IP by continuing to browse through our site.