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Intellectual Property 101

“Intellectual Property” or “IP” refers to creations of the mind.  Many governments, including the United States in the US Constitution, have made a policy decision to give the inventor/author/creator a limited monopoly on certain types of intellectual property.  This monopoly and its limitations attempt to serve two, competing purposes.

  1. Encourage and reward creators.  As a society, we want to encourage and reward new thoughts and inventions.  Morally, we’d like creators to financially benefit from their hard work and creativity.  Allowing a monopoly incentivizes creators to share their works with everyone while protecting their hard work from copy-cats who have not expended the same time and resources in coming up with these advances.
  2. Freely sharing ideas.  On the other hand, we limit the time period for protection so that everyone to share in knowledge in the hope that all of humanity advances.

The United State federal government supports and protects three primary types of IP.

  • Patents
  • Trademarks
  • Copyrights

Each of these three categories covers very different types of intellectual property.  This blog will have a series of entries on each of these topics, starting with an introduction to patents.  If you have a question, please submit it and I will be happy to answer the question.