Differences between major forms of intellectual property protection

Differences between major forms of intellectual property protection

Intellectual property is a term that describes intangible assets. The elements are creations of the mind, which one can claim to own. According to Bainbridge (2012), the main forms of intellectual property forms include patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets. Most of the intellectual property is easily confused. The difference is depicted in the following descriptions.


A patent is the right endowed by a state through the relevant department’s which issues exclusive rights to the owners of certain inventions. Patents are issued for a specific period of time according to the law. The work of Bainbridge (2012) reveals that for one’s product to be patented he or she must prove that it his original work and that the idea is not obvious.


A copyright protects the authors against duplication of their works. Authors can, therefore, benefit from their creative works. Songs, films and other works of art are also protected by copyright. Duplicating of books or banning compact disk can lead to incarceration. As Bainbridge (2012) argues copyright are given for a known period usually fifty or a hundred years after the death of the author.


A trademark is a symbol that meant for business organizations, individuals or other legal entities. It distinguishes the products of a certain company with the ones of other companies. Trademarks can also be in the form of a word, design or phrase. Bainbridge (2012) makes it clear that there are signs in all registered trademarks.

Trade secrets

According to Bainbridge (2012), trade secrets are a formula or design used to prepare a company’s product. Organizations can make a law requiring employees to sign non-disclosure agreements.

Current Ethical Issues that arise under Intellectual Property Law

Intellectual property should be used to create a better social system. Product patenting endeavors seem to be driven by self-interest unlike in the past where there was common ownership. Bainbridge (2012) argues that people lack the virtue ethics after patenting their product and continue accumulating wealth while others languish in poverty. Despite people having the copyright, cases of duplication are still prevalent since the law is not well enforced. The scenario results to poverty amongst authors and artists.

                                       The difference between a patent and a trademark

Patents are given to protect inventions and innovations while a trademark is given to differentiate products of different companies. There are different regulations for registration. Bainbridge (2012) points out that patent registration takes longer and it is more costly than trademark registration. According to Bainbridge (2012), trademarks last for 10 years while patents differ some 20 years while others are 25 years. A trademark can be registered after being used while inventions, which have already been exposed, cannot be patented.

Should a company be allowed to patent a life form?

No company should be allowed to patent a life form because it is a threat to basic science. Bainbridge (2012) points out the genes should not be patented since they are a law of nature and not inventions. Genes have lasted for a long time and no one can claim to protect them against other people’s possession.

Does it matter if the life form is a non-sentient organism like a plant?

Companies should not be allowed to patent the genes of human, animals or plants because it gives an unfair advantage to other companies and yet they are not the owners. The codes of these genes also may be available in the public domain like the internet. According to Bainbridge (2012), patenting the genes can be a major hindrance to scientific research.


Bainbridge, D. I. (2012). Intellectual property. Harlow: Longman

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