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Intellectual Property



Business leaders need to protect the books, software, inventions, advertising slogans, and logos that they and their associates create. That protection includes what actions to take if they see someone else using their work without permission. The Constitution gives Congress the power "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." Over the years, Congress has passed a number of laws related to intellectual property—specifically patents, trademarks, and copyrights.

At A Glance

  • Intellectual property refers to intangible property that is created by the human mind. Examples include a design, slogan, or story. Although intellectual property is itself intangible, protected ideas are often presented in tangible format, including miniature working models and 3-D–printed prototypes.
  • Different types of property may be protected by different common-law or statutory provisions. Intellectual property is protected through the granting of a patent, copyright, or trademark.
  • Fair use permits the use of excerpts of copyrighted material without permission from or payment to the copyright holder under certain circumstances.
  • There are several remedies for infringement on a person's intellectual property.