top of page

Legal English to talk about IP law

Welcome to the world of intellectual property!

Whether you're a business owner, an artist, or simply someone interested in understanding your rights and protections surrounding creative works, it's important to have a grasp on key concepts like trademarks, copyrights, patents and trade secrets. In this blog post, we'll explore what these terms mean and how they relate to each other.

Intellectual property
Intellectual property

Intellectual property refers to the intangible creation of a person's mind. It is something that has been created through someone's creativity, hard work, and originality. Intellectual property includes inventions, literary and artistic works, symbols or designs used for commerce purposes. There are different forms of intellectual property protection such as patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Each type of protection provides unique legal benefits depending on what you want to protect. Patents protect new inventions such as machines or processes for up to 20 years from the date they were filed with the patent office. Trademarks protect words or symbols that identify goods or services in commerce while copyrights cover an author’s exclusive right over their original artistic work. Trade secrets can be any confidential business information that gives your company an economic edge over competitors like formulas and customer lists. Unlike other forms of intellectual property protection which require public disclosure in exchange for legal rights, trade secret law protects confidential information without public disclosure. IP law is important because it encourages innovation by providing individuals with exclusive rights to control how they use and profit from their creations while also balancing these rights against society's interest in promoting competition and free expression.

What is a trademark?

A trademark, in simple terms, is a symbol or a word that identifies one company's products or services from another. It can be a design, logo, phrase or even a sound. A trademark serves as an important tool for businesses to establish brand recognition and protect their reputation.


Trademarks are often registered with the government to ensure exclusive use of the mark by the owner within certain categories of goods and services. This means that no other business can use this same mark in connection with similar goods or services without permission from the owner. It's worth noting that trademarks don't necessarily have to be registered to receive protection - simply using it consistently in commerce could give you some level of legal rights over its usage. However, registration does provide additional protections and benefits under the law. When used correctly, trademarks help businesses build trust with customers by creating recognizable branding while also protecting their intellectual property rights.

What is a copyright?

Copyright is a legal term which refers to the exclusive rights that creators have over their original artistic and literary works. These works can include books, music, movies, software code and other forms of written or recorded media.


In essence, copyright law gives creators the right to control who can copy or distribute their work in any form. This means that if someone wants to use someone else's copyrighted work for commercial purposes - such as selling copies of a book or album - they must first obtain permission from the creator or owner of the copyright. The duration of copyrights varies depending on factors like when the work was created, whether it's been published before and how long ago it was last updated. Generally speaking though, most copyrights will last for several decades after the death of its creator. It's important for content creators and businesses alike to understand what copyright is because failure to properly acknowledge copyrighted material could result in costly lawsuits.

What is a patent?

A patent is a type of intellectual property that gives the inventor exclusive rights to their invention for a certain period of time. This prevents others from making, using or selling the invention without permission. To be granted a patent, an invention must meet specific criteria including novelty and non-obviousness. It must also be useful and have some form of industrial application. Patents can cover a wide range of inventions including machines, processes, chemical compositions and even designs. They are often used by businesses looking to protect their innovative ideas from competitors. The process of obtaining a patent can be lengthy and expensive but it is worth it for those who want to safeguard their intellectual property. Patents can provide legal protection against infringement while also serving as valuable assets in business negotiations. Patents play a crucial role in protecting innovation and encouraging technological advancements across various industries.

What are trade secrets?

Trade secrets refer to confidential business information that derives its value from not being generally known to the public or easily discoverable by competitors. Unlike patents, copyrights, or trademarks, which are protected by specific legal frameworks, trade secrets are primarily safeguarded through non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and other contractual obligations. The secrecy surrounding trade secrets provides companies with a competitive advantage by allowing them to maintain exclusive access to valuable knowledge.

Trade secrets can encompass a wide range of information and processes. Some common examples include customer lists, manufacturing processes, formulas, recipes, algorithms, marketing strategies, and technical know-how. Essentially, any confidential information that provides a company with a competitive edge can be classified as a trade secret.

It is crucial to understand the distinction between trade secrets and other forms of intellectual property. Patents, copyrights, and trademarks protect specific tangible or intangible assets, granting exclusive rights to their owners. In contrast, trade secrets focus on the confidentiality and secrecy of information. Trade secrets are often employed in conjunction with other intellectual property rights to create comprehensive protection strategies for businesses.

In conclusion, mastering the language of law is essential for anyone navigating the complex world of intellectual property.

By understanding the nuances of legal English, you can effectively protect your creative works and inventions, ensuring that your rights are safeguarded.

Stay up-to-date with the latest legal English activities, insights, and expert analysis by following SpeechLex on socials. Join a community of legal enthusiasts, professionals, and innovators, and receive valuable information directly in your inbox to boost your legal English skills.

bottom of page