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Intellectual property law covers special types of intangible properties or protective assets, such as patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets. Intellectual property lawyers are attorneys that specialize in the study of laws which bind these properties.
Legal copyrights protect a creator's rights to reproduce and display his or her works. With a proper copyright in hand, you can defend yourself against musical work copyright infringement, movie piracy, and even secure copyright protection for architectural works. Most intellectual property lawyers will happily walk you through common defenses to copyright infringement if you have been accused of violating copyright law.
Trademarks are a business's way of identifying itself to consumers, whether through a particular name, logo, or trade dress. Trademark laws work to protect those identifying marks from being used by other companies, avoiding a likelihood of confusion in trademarks and confusion between brands. Only distinctive trademarks can be protected under the law-generic trademarks and words cannot be the exclusive property of a business, even if they began as distinctive trademarks.
Patents are a category of intellectual property that pertains to invention. Patenting an invention prevents other people from reproducing and selling it and protects the patent-holder against myriad types of patent infringement. In order to qualify for a patent, an invention must conform to standards of patent novelty, patent non-obviousness, and patent utility. Intellectual property lawyers can provide patent infringement remedies in the case of any infringements.
Trade secrets are business "secrets" (recipes, procedures, etc.) whose economic value is dependent upon those secrets remaining exclusive to the company who owns them. Reasonable security measures for trade secrets must be in place in order for the law to protect those secrets, and trade secrets should also be non-obvious. Trade secret subject matter may include formulas, patterns, compilations, programs, devices, or methods/processes.