3 types of intellectual property businesses need to protect

On Behalf of | Nov 2, 2023 | Business Law

Businesses rely on a variety of different resources to operate profitably. For example, human resources or employees are typically necessary for companies to manufacture goods or provide services unless they operate on an incredibly small scale. Physical assets are also often necessary for companies to function. They may range from real estate to machinery.

Finally, businesses also often have intellectual property that they use to establish themselves in a particular market niche. Intellectual property can be confusing. Many people are familiar with patents, but there are several other, equally valuable types of intellectual property that organizations may need to invest in and then protect.

Copyrighted materials

Original creative works can be worth their weight in gold both for the purpose of income generation and company branding or marketing. From a music number that plays when a company’s app loads to short videos or original written content shared on social media platforms, original works can help a company stand out from the competition. Original creations produced by employees at a company or purchased from creators are a valuable addition to the organization’s portfolio. Businesses sometimes register copyrighted materials with the federal government or derive protection from the publication of original works.


A trademark is an image that serves as a representation of a brand. Trademarks can be entirely visual or may include letters and words. Trademarks generally require registration and need to be substantially different from other trademarks in the same industry for a company to use them as part of its branding. Protecting a trademark can be key to maintaining customer loyalty and deterring knock-offs manufactured by competitors.

Trade secrets

The final category of the most common types of intellectual property is one of the most misunderstood. Trade secrets can consist of any non-public information that gives a business a competitive edge. An original recipe is a trade secret. A chemical formula could be a trade secret. Production processes and client lists are also examples of trade secrets.

Organizations typically need to take steps to protect their intellectual property so that other businesses will not infringe on what makes a company unique. Identifying the most effective means of protecting specific intellectual property utilized by an organization can help it preserve its market niche and future profitability.