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The Guide to Entrepreneurship by Michael Szycher Ph.D

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203
Chapter 10
Intellectual Property
10.1 Introduction
Intellectual property (IP) is a legal concept that refers to creations of the
mind for which exclusive rights are recognized.
1
In its broadest sense, intel-
lectual property means the legal rights that result for intellectual activity in
the industrial, scientic, literary, and artistic elds, and protection against
unfair competition.
2
On July 31, 1790, Samuel Hopkins was issued the rst patent for a pro-
cess of utilizing potash, an ingredient used in fertilizer, for soap making. The
patent was signed by President George Washington, by Secretary of State
Thomas Jefferson, as well as the Secretary of War and the Attorney General.
Hopkins was born in Vermont, but was living in Philadelphia, PA, when the
patent was granted and issued as shown in Figure10.1.
Under the international intellectual property law concept, owners are
granted certain exclusive time-limited rights (20 years from the ling date)
to a variety of intangible assets, such as musical, literary, and artistic works;
technical discoveries and inventions; plus words, phrases, expressions, sym-
bols, designs, commercial names, and designations. It is your bank account
of ideas.
Familiarity with the concept of intellectual property can give you an edge
in today’s competitive environment. Legally recognized intellectual property
comes in several forms, as summarized in Table10.1.
A patent grants an inventor exclusive rights to make, use, sell, and
import an invention for a limited period of time (on June 8, 1995, the new
204The Guide to Entrepreneurship: How to Create Wealth for Your Company
term took effect in the U.S.), in exchange for the public disclosure of the
invention and its practical application. An invention is a solution to a specic
technological problem, which may be a product or a process.
You cannot patent naturally occurring products in nature, scientic prin-
ciples, laws of nature, mental processes, and mathematical formulas.
In the past, there was a great deal of variation of the term of protec-
tion afforded by patents in different countries. The members of the World
Trade Organization (formerly GATT) have now harmonized recognition
of technology patents for a 20-year period that begins with the priority
date.
An industrial design right protects the visual design of objects that are
not purely utilitarian. An industrial design consists of the creation of a shape,
conguration, or composition of pattern or color, or combination of pattern
and color in three-dimensional form containing aesthetic value. An industrial
design can be a two- or three-dimensional pattern used to produce a prod-
uct, industrial commodity, or handicraft.
A copyright gives the creator of original work exclusive rights, usu-
ally for a limited time. Copyright may apply to a wide range of creative,
intellectual, or artistic forms, or “works.” Copyright does not cover ideas
and information themselves, only the form or manner in which they are
expressed.
Figure 10.1 First patent issuedSigned by none other than President George
Washington.

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