Knowing the difference between patents and intellectual property may stand you in good stead. Knowledge is power.
If you are on the verge of trying to corral all of your intellectual property (IP), because it is time to manage it adeptly and wisely, you need first need to know just what you are dealing with in the first place. If you do not really know what intellectual property is, you are going to have a problem. You need to at least have some basic knowledge before you move forward.
Intellectual property is any work created by a person or company. This may include, but is not exclusively confined to, the areas of trademarks, designs, copyrighted materials of literature, music, pictures, music and inventions. The area is actually quite vast and many things that may be seen to be intellectual property may not be. It depends on a variety of qualifiers. When in doubt, consult with legal counsel for a determination of what is and is not intellectual property.
If it helps any, there is a standard definition of what IP is that has been created by the World Intellectual Property Organization, or WIPO. That definition, in short, is that IP relates to information that may be included in tangible objects at the same time in an infinite number of copies at various locales worldwide. The IP is not in the copies, but in the information contained within them.
Thus, if you follow the WIPO definition, copyright protection of IP safeguards against copying of information and patents protect the method of creating a product. This may well be as clear as mud to you, and don’t feel badly. This is a confusing area of the law. Yes, even those lawyers that practice IP law for a living have their moments over definitions and what they mean.
There is one thing that people do not realize about IP; that an idea is not a form of IP. It becomes IP when work is done on it. For example, jotting down an idea and roughing out how to accomplish the desired end result. The more work you do on that idea, the more of an IP it becomes. The more ideas that get fleshed out, the larger one’s IP portfolio may become and time management becomes an issue. So does keeping abreast of all the legal ramifications of the various properties. This is what an IP lawyer is born and bred to do, provide advice. When you are stuck and cannot figure things out, speak to the attorney. It is the best investment you will ever make.