Updated: Mar 9
For many people, the words 'intellectual property' mean expensive patents, patent lawyers, renewal fees and legal actions but this is clearly not the case. The dictionary defines IP as 'intangible property that is the result of creativity'. In business there are many different ways in which you can identify and protect your intellectual property. Patents typically protect something physical and inventive like a mechanism for example. Design patents in the US and Design Registrations in the EU protect the appearance or look of something, like a pair of shoes or a backpack for example. Trademarks protect logos and copyright protects written content such as papers or books. There is a whole other area of IP that is sometimes difficult to identify and define but can be even more important to protect than a logo or a mechanism. I am referring to things like proprietary knowledge, unique operating methods, and special skills - the way things get done in a business that are not obvious, often not documented but unique to the way the business works and makes money.