Intellectual Property 101: The Basics

by Gutwein Law

What is Intellectual Property (IP)?

As defined by the World Intellectual Property Organization:

“Creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; symbols, names and images used in commerce”

As defined by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office:

“Creative works or ideas embodied in a form that can be shared or can enable others to recreate, emulate, or manufacture them”

Why is IP important?

In the United States, the commonly held belief is that our culture, society and economy benefits when there exists a healthy, ongoing exchange of information and ideas. But unless people with an ability to develop and implement new ideas have a way of doing so without risking a loss of ownership, innovation stalls. Without IP protection, creators like you have very little incentive to develop better, more advanced offerings and our collective growth would slow significantly.

Why protect your IP?

Often overlooked and routinely undervalued, intellectual property represents the fruits of your labor. All of the time, money and resources you’ve sacrificed to make your idea a reality? It can all be for naught should someone else take your creation and run with it.  

As an entrepreneur or inventor, it’s your ingenuity that deserves to be rewarded, not someone else’s willingness to poach your work. The U.S. government agrees, and allows you to defend your IP using four main avenues: copyrights, patents, trademarks and trade secrets.


Whether it’s a product or process, design or idea, if it’s a concept that came from your mind, it’s your intellectual property. And you need to protect it. By doing so, you assert your rights over the material you’ve worked so hard to bring to life.

To learn about the different types of IP, ways to defend your IP (alone or when working with others), or simply to figure out where to begin, visit

Gutwein Law Informed Intellectual Property Microsite