Although each individual intellectual property regime has its own subject matter requirements and standards for infringement, they share certain essential features. Each provides limited property rights vested in intangible mental products in exchange for eventual public dissemination.
- Trade Secrets: protects concrete information of economic value which is the subject of reasonable efforts under the circumstances to maintain secrecy. This protection is most commonly provided under state law regimes, and does not require any formalities.
- Trademark: provides for the protection of any word, symbol, or device adopted and used to identify goods and distinguish them from others. As established under the Federal Lanham Act, trademark protection may attach through use, although registration affords procedural and remedial advantages.
- Rights of Publicity: grants an individual exclusive control over commercial use of his or her identity, including name, likeness, and performing style. These are protected as common law rights or through state statutes.
- Copyright: grants holder exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, or license his or her work. These rights arise automatically when an original work is fixed in a concrete medium of expression. As defined under the amended Copyright Act of 1976, the scope of copyright protection is limited in time and through such additional limitations as fair use.
- Patent: confers rights upon any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of nature. According to the Patent Act, a patent may be obtained only through filing a timely application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which will determine if the invention falls within the subject matter of patent, meets its three requirements-utility, novelty, and non-obviousness as a over the prior art, and includes an enabling description.