Intellectual Property

Student Checklist

In this lesson, you will be learning about intellectual property and how to protect it because your ideas and creativity are something that can be taken. It is very important to protect yourself and your product in order to be successful!

  • You will identify intellectual property related to your product or service and describe how to protect it
  • You will learn where to check compliance of laws required in your state or area for your product or service and be able to verify that you are following all requirements
  • You will list what legal resources are available and utilize them when necessary

Intellectual Property is any idea, innovation, or non-physical representation that you create or produce. You can and need to protect it in case someone else likes your idea and tries to claim it as their own. If you don’t have proper protection, they will be able to claim it. You are taking this course because you have a great idea for a business or created a great invention or product that you want to grow into a business. There are key points to remember and put into action before making your ideas known.

First, you must do research to determine which ideas are worth protecting. It can get costly to protect ideas and some ideas might already have been developed and protected. Ideas could be patented, copyright protected, trademark protected, or kept as a trade secret. Even though you feel your idea is unique, you need to complete the research to confirm that it is unique. This is called making sure you have the freedom to operate. The United States Patent and Trademark website is a great place to start this research.

Next, you will want to choose the ways you will protect your IP. Since you are just starting out, you might not need to start a patent application yet. You can protect your IP through trade secrets such as using a Non-Disclosure Agreement with anyone that helps you build your business. This will legally bind them from sharing your ideas. Back up all your ideas on a jump drive from your computer and keep personal electronic devices with information password protected. Once you create something new and creative, it is automatically copyrighted. If you want to claim it as yours in a court of law, actually registering it with the U.S. Copyright Office is the best approach. At some point, you will be ready to patent your product and you will want to have a trustworthy legal advisor to guide you in the process. You will explore the different types of patents and find which type(s) is best for your product.