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What Is Intellectual Property?


Intellectual Property rights are intangible assets; meaning, assets that are not physical in nature. Intellectual property rights protect unauthorized use or practice of a particular right (or rights) by persons or entities. 

Intellectual Property encompasses the below:

Trademarks are source identifiers used to communicate ownership of a particular thing when used in commerce. Types of trademarks include: 

  • Design Marks (logos)





  • Colors Used As Marks 




Trade Dress is usually defined as the "total image and overall appearance" of a product, or the totality of the elements, and "may include features such as size, shape, color or color combinations, texture, graphics." Two Pesos, Inc. v. Taco Cabana, Inc., 505 U.S. 763, 764 n.1, 23 USPQ2d 1081, 1082 n.1 (1992).



The Copyright Act protects “original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.” 17 U.S.C. § 102(a). Works that can be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office includes the following categories: 

  • Literary works

  • Musical works, including any accompanying words

  • Dramatic works, including any accompanying music

  • Pantomimes and choreographic works

  • Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works

  • Motion pictures and other audiovisual works

  • Sound recordings 

  • Architectural works

  • Compilations 

  • Collective works

A patent is an exclusive and enforceable right granted for an invention new products, processes, machines, articles of manufacture, compositions of matters, useful improvements, ornamental design for an article of manufacture, and new variety of plants. 

  • Utility patents can be granted to inventors who discover any new, useful, and non-obvious process, machine, article of manufacture, or compositions of matters, or any new useful improvement thereof.  

  • Design patents can be granted to inventors who develop a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.

  •  Plant patents can be granted to inventors who discover or invent and asexually reproduces any new and distinct variety of plant. 

Trade secret protects anything (tangible, intangible, or electronically kept or stored)  which is a secret scientific, technical, merchandising, production or management information, design, process, procedure, formula, invention or improvement. Trade secret is broadly defined, what is paramount, is that the thing is kept secret. 

Example of trade secret matters:


  • Copyright infringement and trade secrets action arising from Defendants' alleged infringement of Plaintiff Buck Woodall's (hereinafter, "Plaintiff's" or "Woodall's") "Bucky" and "Bucky the Wave Warrior" animated film projects" through Defendants' production and release of the Disney animated film Moana. The FAC, filed as a matter of right, asserts eight causes of action: (1) copyright infringement; (2) violations of Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016, 18 U.S.C. § 1836; (3) violations of the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act, Cal. Civ. Code §§ 3426 et seq.; (4) fraud; (5) fraudulent concealment; (6) false promises; (7) tortious interference with contractual relations; and (8) accounting. Woodall v. Walt Disney Co., No. CV 20-3772-CBM-(Ex), 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 140598, at *2 (C.D. Cal. Apr. 14, 2021).

  • Following a twelve-day trial, Dr. Xiaorong You, aka Shannon You, 59, of Lansing, Michigan, was convicted of conspiracy to commit trade secret theft, conspiracy to commit economic espionage, possession of stolen trade secrets, economic espionage, and wire fraud. You was originally indicted in February 2019 for trade secret offenses and wire fraud, and was charged in a superseding indictment with  economic espionage and conspiracy to commit economic espionage in August 2020. United States v. Xiaorong You, No. 2:19-CR-14, (E.D. Tenn. Apr. 19, 2021) (“No. 2:19-CR-14 04-19-2021 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. XIAORONG YOU”).

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Trade Dress
Trade Secret
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