Entrepreneurs, artists, and others in California may understand the frustration of having one’s creative work copied, especially if the individual or entity doing the copying then uses that material to generate a profit. It is important to know the types of protections available so that violations are clearly understood. In some cases, legal action may be necessary to put an end to illicit use of one’s materials, but this may be contingent on correctly protecting those materials in the first place.

There are various types of intellectual property to consider. For example, when one’s literary or artistic work is created in a fixed form like a computer file or in print, it can be considered as copyrighted. Computer software falls into this category. An individual may use the copyright symbol with such work, and they can expect the protection to last for a certain number of years after their death. In some cases, a longer period of coverage might be allowed based on the country in which the creator resides.

Trademarks are different from copyrights in that they apply to specific symbols, artwork, sounds, scents, or color schemes used exclusively by a specific organization, business, or individual. To reinforce one’s rights to use a specific trademark, it is important to register them with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, which allows for those rights to be enforced. A patent, meanwhile, is used to protect one’s rights to an invention. In filing for a patent, an individual or entity must make the technical details available to the public. A patent allows an inventor to prevent exploitation of their inventions.

In the course of developing or expanding one’s business in California, it might be important to have legal insight about the need to register a trademark for a product or to file a patent for a new technology. Cultivating a relationship with a business lawyer may allow for efficient handling of these needs over time.