You need to protect your business’s intellectual property. What kinds of IP protection should you use? Here is an overview of what each type of IP entails.


A trademark is simply the identity of your company. It includes everything from the name to slogans to logos. While you can get trademark protection by simply using it, you get much better protection if you register your mark. The most well-known trademarks in the world tend to be the logos and names of famous brands, such as Apple, Google, and Nike. Every startup needs a trademark to protect its reputation on the market and in the investment community.


Patents are for protecting your inventions. They cover how things work, what they do, how they perform their tasks, what they are made of, and how they are made. They can be for a wide range of technologies from a new medicine to a new type of spill-proof bottle. They can be for whole new inventions, as well as improvements to existing things. If you have a new technology or even a new business method, you should consider getting a patent. Patents must be registered before getting protection.


Copyrights are for protecting original creative works. The most common forms of copyrights are movies, books, and music. However, it can also cover things such as specific computer code. While you automatically get copyright protection without registration, registration gives important benefits such as establishing ownership.

Design patents or design rights

Design patents or design rights, depending on the country, protect the visual and ornamental aspects of a useful item. They are very common for consumer goods as well as software. Examples of things protected by a design patent or design right are smartphones such as the iPhone, the Coca-Cola bottle, packaging, and computer icons. In many jurisdictions, designs are automatically protected without registration, but like trademarks and copyrights, it is highly recommended that you register your design.

Trade secrets

Trade secrets is a broad term used to describe confidential business information which provides a competitive edge. Trade secrets can be many different things such as lists of customers and suppliers, market data, formulas and methods, know-how for manufacturing processes, and distribution methods. The unauthorized use of such information by third parties is regarded as an unfair practice and a violation of the trade secret.

In order to protect a trade secret, the company must make reasonable efforts to keep the information secret. For example, if your trade secret is a secret formula for a soft drink, one reasonable precaution would be to keep tight internal control over the formula and limit access only to those employees that need to use it. The secret formulas for Coca-Cola and KFC are two of the most famous trade secrets.

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