Intellectual property law protects a number of rights that relate to creations and artistic projects of all kinds. Generally, these works are the creative works of authors, artists, inventors, poets, songwriters, and other similar people. The most well-known aspects of property right law include copyrights, patents, and trademarks. However, there's a distinction between intellectual property awards and general intellectual property rights.

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What Does the USPTO Do?

Intellectual property awards refer to official US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) protections for a product or process. This is where copyrights, patents, and trademarks come into play. You can't just claim the protections that these awards bring—you have to apply with the USPTO to make it official. The intellectual property awards protect against a number of situations ranging from infringement, inappropriate usage, and unauthorized usage.

Are USPTO Awards Always Necessary?

Intellectual property rights do not always require that you seek an intellectual property award to protect your interests. Copyright, for instance, applies in its most basic form as soon as you put down the words to a song or a novel. Even if you don't file an official copyright request, you can keep others from using your work by sending Cease and Desist Letters and filing proper suit. If you need to, you can also take infringers to court. Essentially, someone cannot grab your work and claim it as his or her own, even if you have not filed for protection with the USPTO. The one exception to this is in patent and trademark law. In this case, it's a race to registration. Whoever creates and registers it first at the USPTO office will get ownership of it, and can keep others from using it.

If the USPTO refuses to grant a trademark or patent, then general intellectual property rights still offer basic protection. You can't insist that people reimburse you for using a similar product or image unless you can prove that they took it from you without permission, but it still affords some protection.

Get the legal help you need—whether it’s asking a lawyer for help or creating a Cease and Desist Letter—at our Intellectual Property Center.

Get Started Protect your intellectual property Create IP documents and ask a lawyer your questions.

Get Started Protect your intellectual property Create IP documents and ask a lawyer your questions.