Need help to start or grow your business? Begin BizStarts
ENTER YOUR EMAIL to get our newsletter delivered to your email box >>

By submitting this form, you are granting: BizStarts, 1555 N. Rivercenter Drive, Milwaukee, WI, 53212, permission to email you. You may unsubscribe via the link found at the bottom of every email. (See our Email Privacy Policy ( for details.) Emails are serviced by Constant Contact.

Intellectual Property

What is intellectual property?

Intellectual property refers to the right in an intangible asset. Common forms include patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Intellectual property rights determine the rights to make, use, sell, display and manufacture. These rights can be transferred, sold or licensed to others.

What is a Patent?

A patent is “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling in the country in which the patent applies. For example, if you hold a U.S. patent, you can stop others from making your invention overseas and selling it in the U.S. Patents are very powerful forms of intellectual property because they can prohibit others from making inventions that do the same thing as your invention (“functional equivalents”) as well as protecting products that precisely copy it.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is an agency in the United States Department of Commerce that provides patent protection to inventors and businesses for their inventions.

What Is a Trademark or Servicemark?

A trademark is a word, name, symbol or any device which identifies the source of goods and services. Its primary value relates to branding and recognition in the marketplace. A servicemark is the same as a trademark except that it identifies and represents a service rather than a product.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is an agency in the United States Department of Commerce that provides trademark registration for product and intellectual property identification.

What Is a Copyright?

Copyright is a form of protection provided to the authors of creative, expressive works. This covers a wide range of work, including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished. It is important to understand that a copyright protects the form of expression rather than functional ideas or concepts. For example, a copyright on software would protect against copying of the computer code, but generally won’t protect others from creating their own code that accomplishes the same function. (In contrast, a patent, as discussed above, protects functionality).

The United States Copyright Office has detailed information available.

What is a Trade Secret?

Trade secrets are types of business and technical information that are generally known. Trade secrets are generally protected under state law, which is based on the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. Types of information that can be protected as a trade secret include formulas, patterns, programs, devices, compilations of information, methods, techniques and processes.

BizStarts highly recommends consulting an attorney to ensure your intellectual property is properly protected.

Our Sponsors

Thinking Of Joining?

Interested in joining the BizStarts BizForge program to help your start-up grow? Sign up today! It's free. After completing our online application, a BizStarts representative will contact you to begin your journey.


The latest from BizStarts

Stay In The Know

Get entrepreneur resources, event information, and inspirational stories at your fingertips with BizStarts. It's free to sign up.