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Copyrights and trade secrets can protect two types of intangible assets that can be the basis of business success.
Copyrights apply to original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works. They can protect blueprints, computer software, jewelry, television ads and performances.
Trade secrets are any bits of information or ideas that, if leaked, could be used by another company to undercut the originator’s competitive advantage. A customer list or computer code could be a trade secret, and the precise formula for the Coca-Cola soft drink has been a trade secret for decades. An example of partial failure of trade secret protection is when another company reverse-engineers computer software, uses the concepts discovered and writes source code from scratch embodying the concepts.
Copyrights are simple to obtain, while trade secrets can be more difficult to protect. An entrepreneur should consult a lawyer for specific advice on how to protect any commercially viable intellectual property.
Mark of the maker
Copyrights are most significant in the computer software and art industries, but they also protect advertising copy and technical writings.
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