Intellectual property can be broken down inti the following:
Copyright law protects the rights of creators in their works in fine arts, publishing, entertainment, and computer software. The laws protect the owner of the work if others copy, present, or display the owners work without permission.
Trademark law protects a word, phrase, symbol or design that is used by an entity to identify its product or service.
Patent law grants protection for new inventions which can be products, processes or designs and provides a mechanism for protection of the invention. The patent law promotes the sharing of new developments with others to foster innovation. The patent owner has the right to protect others from producing, using, distributing or importing the protected item. Essentially the patent is a property right that can be licensed, sold, mortgaged or assigned.
Trade secrets are business practices, formulas, designs or processes used in a business, designed specifically to provide a competitive advantage to a business. These trade secrets would not be otherwise known to an “outsider” of the business. An example of this is the formula for Coca Cola. Trade secrets are protected without registration and appropriate steps should be taken by the owner to maintain confidentiality.