Your Intellectual Property
About Mr. Cantwell
Publications of Mr. Cantwell
of Mr. Cantwell
Contact Mr. Cantwell
Intellectual property is a
category of property that includes copyrights, patents, trademarks and
other products of human intellectual activity. Intellectual property is
generally protected under four distinct bodies of law – the law of copyrights,
patents, trademarks and trade secrets.
Copyrights protect literary,
music, audiovisual and other types of “works” that are fixed in tangible
Patents protect new and useful inventions.
protect words, names and/or symbols that serve to identify,
respectively, the source of a
product or service.
Trade secrets protect any information (such as
ideas, inventions, formulas, know-how, programs, processes, and research
and development) that derives independent economic value from not being
generally known or readily ascertainable.
There is overlap among these
bodies of law, however. A classic example of the
interface among these bodies of law is the Jaguar hood ornament, which
is protected under copyright law
as a sculptural work, under patent law as a design patent, and under trademark law
because it functions as an indicator of source. software programs are copyrightable
works but may also be protected by patent law.
Intellectual Property Protected?
Patents and copyrights are
protected solely under federal law, trademarks are protected principally under
federal but also under state law, and trade secrets are protected
principally under state law but also under federal law.
The federal laws
governing copyrights, patents and trademarks are the Copyright Act, the Patent
Act and the Lanham Act, respectively. Each state has its own
laws governing trade secrets and trademarks.
owners who succeed in
claims brought under
these laws may obtain
(including, in special
cases, their attorneys’
fees) as well as
the future use of the
©2005-2017 Michael K. Cantwell