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intellectual property

Intellectual property is the body of law (statutes and court opinions) that protects a person’s original works. There are generally four types of intellectual property: (1) patents; (2) copyrights; (3) trademarks; and (4) trade secrets. For example, patent law protects the works of people who create new utilities for chemicals and machines (utility patents), new designs (design patents), and new plant varieties (plant patents). Copyright law protects new works of authorship such as books, movie scripts, paintings, poetry, and songs. Trademark law protects the names and identifying marks (logos) of products and companies. And trade secrets are pieces of information that have economic value from not being generally known to the public or discoverable by lawful means, and that the owner strives to keep secret.

In Texas, as in all states, intellectual property law is primarily governed by federal statutes, as the creation and enforcement of intellectual property rights are considered under the jurisdiction of federal law. Patents are protected under the United States Patent Act, which provides legal protection for inventors of new machines, processes, designs, and plant varieties. Copyrights are secured under the Copyright Act, which safeguards original works of authorship, including literature, music, and art. Trademarks are governed by the Lanham Act, which ensures protection for distinctive marks, symbols, and names used by businesses to identify their goods and services. Lastly, trade secrets are protected under both the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act (TUTSA) and the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA), which offer remedies for the misappropriation of confidential business information that provides a competitive edge. While federal law provides the framework for intellectual property rights, Texas law can provide additional remedies and enforcement mechanisms, particularly in relation to trade secrets and the unfair competition aspects of trademark law.

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