What Protects The Intellectual Property Created By Artists?

What Protects The Intellectual Property Created By Artists?

Intellectual property refers to the legal protections for various forms of creation, such as inventions, literary works, names, symbols, and artwork used in commerce.

Artists often want to protect their ideas and creations, which can be comprised of various forms of IP, such as paintings, sculptures, photographs, and written works.

There are several types of legal protections that an artist can obtain to protect their IP.

The most common are: patents, copyrights, and trademarks. And, less commonly: trade secrets.

What Protects The Intellectual Property Created By ArtistsCourtesy:NCI
What Protects The Intellectual Property Created By Artists


Patents are legal protections granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

They are applied for and granted to protect new and practical inventions that have a functional aspect.

For example, a sculptor may be able to apply for and obtain a design patent for a unique sculpture.

Patents give the inventor the exclusive right to make, use, sell, or license their invention for a limited period of time, usually 20 years.

Patents can also be used to prevent others from copying, using, or selling your invention without your permission.

However, patents are not easy to obtain.

They require a lot of time, money, and expertise to apply for and maintain.

They also require that the invention is novel, useful, and non-obvious, which means that it is not something that someone else has already done or could easily do.


Copyrights are granted to the creator of the work once it is in a fixed, tangible medium.

For example, a copyright can be issued for a completed book or painting, or for a recorded song.

Copyrights give the creator the exclusive right to copy, sell, distribute, publicly perform, and authorize a third party to sell or make derivative works out of their work for a certain period of time, usually the life of the author plus 70 years.

Copyrights can also be used to prevent others from using, copying, or making a profit from your work without your permission.

However, copyrights do not protect the ideas, concepts, or facts behind your work.

They only protect the expression of your work, which means the way you present your ideas, concepts, or facts.

For example, you cannot copyright the idea of a vampire romance novel, but you can protect the way you write it.


Trademarks are logos, symbols, and brand names that are used to identify and distinguish the goods of one company from another.

Famous trademarks include Apple Inc.’s “apple” symbol and Nike’s “swoosh”.

Trademarks give the owner the exclusive right to use, register, and protect their mark from being used by others in a way that could cause confusion or deception among consumers.

Trademarks can also be used to prevent others from using your mark or a similar mark to sell or promote their goods or services without your permission.

However, trademarks do not protect the quality, functionality, or features of your goods or services.

They only protect the reputation and goodwill that you have built with your mark.

For example, you cannot trademark the shape or color of your product, but you can protect the way you brand it.

Trade Secrets

Trade secrets are generally defined as processes, formulas, or information that are deemed to be confidential business information.

These can include computer code, recipes, customer lists, or marketing strategies.

Trade secrets give the owner the right to keep their information secret and prevent others from using, disclosing, or acquiring it without their consent.

Trade secrets can also be used to gain a competitive advantage over others in the market.

However, trade secrets are not registered or granted by any government agency.

They are only protected by contract law and state laws.

This means that you have to take reasonable measures to protect your trade secrets, such as using non-disclosure agreements, encryption, or security systems.

If your trade secret is leaked, stolen, or independently discovered by someone else, you may lose your protection.

ALSO READ: How To Protect Your Intellectual Property As An Independent Contractor

ALSO READ: How Does A Copyright Differ From A Patent?

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