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Introduction to Intellectual Property

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Essay title: Introduction to Intellectual Property

Introduction to Intellectual Property



Intellectual Property is an idea or innovation that is created or discovered. This includes things that you write, design, invent, software, trade secrets, sing, speak, draw, learn, etc... Intellectual property can be created by you or you can pay someone to create it for you. Intellectual property is protected by trade secrets, patents, trademarks and copyright laws. Each of these laws covers a specific type of intellectual property.


There are two types of patents; design and utility. Patents are used to protect inventions or designs for inventions. Patents last for 20 years and the application for a patent must past certain tests in order to be issued. An example of a utility patent would be a patent for a light bulb. A design patent would be used to protect a style or type of a light bulb. Patents are protected and monitored under the United States Department of Commerce, Patent and Trademark Office.


Trademarks are used to protect intellectual property such as brand names, logos, etc... Trademarks do not need to be applied for. There are 3 conditions for using a trademark: no one else can be using it, trademark is not a descriptive phrase commonly used and finally that you use it. (printing TM beside your intellectual property is sufficient.) Trademarks do not expire unless you stop using it.


Anything that is written can be copyrighted. It needs to be stated that you reserve the copyright to the material. (Ex. Copyright 1999 by Suzi Strange, All Rights Reserved) Other intellectual property that can be copyrighted are; songs, photographs, drawings, articles, artworks, lists, charts, etc... Copyrights are not monitored or recorded like patents.

Trade Secrets

This intellectual property involves keeping secret a certain formula, recipe, design, etc... The secret can be kept by persons signing papers agreeing to keep the secret or by admitting that this is a trade secret. An example would be the recipe for a food product.

Although intellectual property includes the above four categories, not all of these pertain directly to technology and education. Therefore, this white paper will focus on the issues of copyright and its involvement with education.

Sources: (Adapted from)

Intellectual Property: A Brief Tour of the Issue, [] (February, 1999)

Weinstein, Lee, "A Short Course on Proprietary Intellectual Property", [], (February 1999)

Copyright - Definition

The subject matter of copyright is usually described as "literary and artistic works," that is, original creations in the fields of literature and arts. The form in which such works are expressed may be words, symbols, music, pictures, three-dimensional objects, or combinations thereof (as in the case of an opera or a motion picture). Practically all national copyright laws provide for the protection of the following types of works:

literary works: novels, short stories, poems, dramatic works and any other writings, irrespective of their content (fiction or nonfiction), length, purpose (amusement, education, information, advertisement, propaganda, etc.), form (handwritten, typed, printed; book, pamphlet, single sheets, newspaper, magazine); whether published or unpublished; in most countries computer programs and "oral works," that is, works not reduced to writing, are also protected by the copyright law;

musical works: whether serious or light; songs, choruses, operas, musicals, operettas; if for instruments, whether for one instrument (solos), a few instruments (sonatas, chamber music, etc.) or many (bands, orchestras)

choreographic works;

artistic works: whether two-dimensional (drawings, paintings, etchings, lithographs, etc.) or three-dimensional (sculptures, architectural works), irrespective of their content (representational or abstract) and destination ("pure" art, for advertisement, etc.);

maps and technical drawings;

photographic works: irrespective of the subject

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