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Estate Planning for Intellectual Property: Part One

February 19, 2015

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:00 am

Do you own a copyright, patent, or some other form of intellectual property? These assets might not be tangible, but they certainly can be valuable. In this first post, we’ll discuss the basics behind patents and copyrights. There are four primary categories of intellectual property that may be involved in your estate plan:

  • Trademarks
  • Trade secrets
  • Copyrights
  • Patents

Trademarks and trade secrets are common terms for business owners and entrepreneurs. However, copyrights and patents are also useful and are governed by federal laws geared to promote creative and scientific endeavors by awarding exclusive rights to someone during a particular time period.

The two most common kinds of patents are design and utility patents. A design patent can be awarded for a new, ornamental, and original design for an article of manufacture. Utility patents are given to those who “discover” or “invent” a useful and new process, manufacture, composition of matter, or machine.

Patents protection inventions that are useful, nonobvious, and novel. Current laws protect inventions for 20 years from the patent application filing date for utility patents and 15 years for design patents. Copyrights, however, protect an original expression of ideas, typically found in paintings, sculptures, films, sound recordings, or written work. Copyright protection is more immediate than patents, since the protection begins after the work is in a fixed medium.

Do you already own a copyright or patent or believe that a loved one does? Tune in tomorrow for specific tips on estate planning for these valuable commodities. Reach out to us at shutterstock_135839123

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