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IP 101 > Trade Secrets - Pg. 133

A Primer on Intellectual Property 133 IP 101 Intellectual property is one of the United States' main exports--evidence, some would say, that the government achieved its goals in enacting the laws that protect such property. Congress created laws governing intellectual property that create four major classes: trade secrets, copyrights, trademarks, and patents. The animating principles behind these laws is threefold: To encourage innovation by allowing a creator to control and reap the rewards of a creation; To grant few monopolies in intellectual property, which stifle innovation; and To protect consumers from brand confusion, where one party's goods are confusingly similar to another's. Table 5.1. IP Categories and Basic Facts Trade Secret What is Protected Processes, concepts, ideas, software, documents, contract terms, more. Valuable to compet- itors, not generally known, secrecy. Maintenance of se- crecy. Trademark or Service Mark Words, names or symbols, char- acter design. Copyright Computer software, audiovisual elements, music, art, more. Utility Patent Ideas and concepts made tangible. Require- ments How rights are ac- quired. Identifies source of goods. Originality. Novel and unobvi- ous. Registration with USPTO. Minimal rights acquired by use; federal protection through USPT registration, which requires use or intent to use. Minimal rights acquired at time of creation; registration through Copyright Office recommended to prove ownership, required to sue for infringement.