California Intellectual Property Law: Understanding the Basics

Star Wars. The iPhone. Google. These California-built icons are a shining example of creativity and business success – and they also illustrate the importance of intellectual property protection. Each of these entities would be nothing without their intellectual property – their logos, their trademarks, their patented designs, their top-secret algorithms.

You may not own a film series like Star Wars, a product as successful as the iPhone, or a service used by millions of consumers every day like Google – but your business does have intellectual property, and it needs protection. If you’re a technology company, your most valuable intellectual property is obvious. But every single business has sensitive information that needs protection – a logo, a customer list, a unique sales platform, and so forth.

If your intellectual property isn’t protected, you’re at risk. Unfortunately, intellectual property law can be intimidating, and for that reason many business owners don’t address it. In this blog entry, we will attempt to de-mystify the basic intellectual property protections that are available for California business owners.

The most common forms of intellectual property protections available to businesses and individuals are the patent, the trademark, and the copyright. A patent protects an invention, discovery, or design, preventing people outside of the patent holder from making money on the invention without the patent holder’s permission. Trademarks most commonly protect names, logos, symbols, and designs. A copyright protects original works of art, such as novels, paintings, and films – and it can often be used for other intellectual creations, such as software.

Properly securing your intellectual property is vital for protecting your assets – but it also provides enhanced marketing appeal. When consumers see that your products are patented, or that your brand identity is trademarked, there is a subliminal message of expertise and credibility which can set your business apart from the competition. And while it can take years to secure these intellectual property protections through the relevant government agencies, in many cases you can begin using the designations (like ©, ™, or Patent Pending) either before or soon after filing.

As a business owner, you need to secure your intellectual property. The stakes are too high to ignore. The good news is that the process doesn’t have to be difficult. Please contact me today to discuss your California business and the intellectual property needs that you may have. I look forward to hearing from you!

Integrated General Counsel