One of the important considerations for entrepreneurs is how to protect their intellectual property. In this lesson, we'll explore the concept of intellectual property. We'll spend a few minutes talking about why IP is important to entrepreneurs. And then finally, we'll introduce some common forms and types of intellectual property. Before we jump in, let's use this depiction as a backdrop. Here their speaker is asking, do we need to copyright the trademark on our patent? Now, as an IP lawyer, I received questions like this quite often. Business owners instinctively know that they should somehow protect their intellectual assets but the various forms of intellectual property can be quite confusing. In this scenario, the concept of copyrighting a trademark or a patent, doesn't really exist. Another common example is whether you can patent the name of your company. The answer is no. Later on we're going to get into the various forms of IP to help understand what type of IP protection is available for various intellectual assets you may have in your business. But first, let's really dig in on what IP really is. Intellectual property is a legal term, and it refers broadly to creations of the mind. It has many of the rights and benefits of real and personal property, but it's intangible so for example, with real property like land or personal property like your laptop or your smartphone, you have the right to prevent others from taking that from you. You can sell it, you can leverage it as collateral, you can also assign it to someone else. You can license it and generate revenue from it and so intellectual property, while intangible, very much has some of the same benefits that you readily understand from other forms of property. So why is this important to entrepreneurs? Well, first, and for those of you who are having early stage startup companies, it's very important in terms of attracting investment capital. Investors ask about intellectual property. They're going to want to know, are you seeking intellectual property protection? What types of intellectual property protection that you're seeking or have sought and secured. They're also going to want to know what other intellectual property exists in the space that you're in. They want to make sure that if they're invested in your company, that you're not infringing on others intellectual property rights. Investors are going to be very circumspect about how you handle intellectual property in your dealings with third parties. So for example, if you have agreements with employees, how do you treat intellectual property in those agreements? If you have agreements with vendors or others who you do business with, how is intellectual property handled and investors want to know that because your IP is going to be a very critical asset to your business. In addition to attracting investment capital, intellectual property is also important in terms of stopping others from stealing your idea. It allows you to not only protect your inventions, for example, but also protect your brand. What others think about your company, what others know about your company. Intellectual property is a way to stop others from hurting your brand or stealing your business ideas. Finally, intellectual property can also be used to generate revenue. So for example, you can license your intellectual property and get paid royalties on those licenses. That's a great way to generate revenue for your business. All of this to say that intellectual property, because of all the great benefits that it can bring to a business and how it can allow your business to have a competitive advantage, it's very important consideration for you as a young entrepreneur. Now let's jump into some of the various types of intellectual property. In this course, we're going to deal primarily with four big types of IP: patents, trademarks, copyright, and trade secrets. First, patents. Patents are used to protect inventions, products, processes, machines. Really functional aspects of your business idea can be protected by patents. Trademarks are used to protect logos, slogans. So if your company has a neat catch phrase, or if you have a very clear design logo that distinguishes your company from others in the marketplace, these are creations that can be protected via trademark. Copyright. Copyright is used to protect writings that you disclose publicly in a tangible form. So, for example, on your website, the content on your website can be protected by copyright. Or if you have a book or software code or other types of writings that are associated with your business, these can be protected by copyright and you can prevent others from infringing on your rights in that content. Then finally, trade secrets. Trade secrets, unlike patents or copyrights, or trademarks, aren't something that you register for. Trade secrets are actually confidential information that gives your business a competitive advantage. But you're able to have that protection by keeping the confidential information secret so the idea of trademarks is you keep the information secret and by using that secret information, you're able to have a competitive advantage in the marketplace. For example, think about Coca-Cola and the recipe for Coca-Cola. It's a trade secret. It's something that's kept very confidential at Coke and that allows Coke to have its competitive advantage in the marketplace. As another example, early on, Google's search algorithm was kept confidential as a trade secret and that allowed Google to distinguish itself in the search business. So trade secret is also a very powerful form of intellectual property that doesn't require you to go through onerous registration processes that you must do for patents or trademarks, or copyrights but still it allows a very strong protection of your intellectual assets. Now these various forms of intellectual property are not necessarily mutually exclusive. We're going to use the example of software to illustrate this. Software can be protected by copyright, the actual source code, if you're in the business of software, can be the subject of copyright protection. If that software is running on a special purpose computer or some other device, that device running that software, maybe the subject of patent protection. Also, if the software is kept confidential and it gives you a competitive advantage in the marketplace, it can easily be protected under the trade secret laws so this is a good example software is of how various forms of IP can be used to protect your business assets. So in summary here, intellectual property, although it's intangible, it's a very valuable asset. It's important for you in terms of raising investment capital. It could be used to generate revenue, and also to just give you protection for your ideas. There are various forms of intellectual property, we talked about patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secret. Early on in your process as an entrepreneur and developing your business, you want to make sure that you're considering all of these forms of IP to gain the best protection for your ideas.