BRANDIGATION™ BASICS: Understanding the Types of Intellectual Property 

You’ve probably heard of the most common types of intellectual property, but often times, the terms are mixed up or misused. Let’s clarify the difference with a few quick explanations: 




Trade Secrets

Copyright describes the rights creators have over literary and artistic works – Copyright law protects expression rather than ideas and exists as of the moment the work is created or put into a tangible form.


To qualify for copyright protection, a work must be “fixed in a tangible medium of expression” – like music notes or words on a page.  

Trademarks consist of words, phrases and symbols and even smells, sounds and colors used to distinguish the goods and services of one company from those of another.


Trademarks can last as long as they are used and protected by the owner.




Patents are rights granted for inventions – whether an idea or a process – and allows the holder of the patent to exclude others from using, producing or selling his or her invention for a period of time.




A trade secret is information or a process that is exclusive or confidential to a company, such as a formula, list, system or procedure.


Trade secrets can be lost if disclosed to outsiders.