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We represent owners and prospective owners of all types of intellectual property assets.

Most business owners are familiar with the basic concept of intellectual property, and in our experience, most are even familiar with the different types of IP that exist. However, we also know that many people are less familiar with the differences between the different types of intellectual property—in other words when one type of protection is needed as opposed to another.

At AdamsIP, we believe strongly in helping our clients make informed decisions; and, in many cases, this starts with helping our clients understand the types of protections that are available for the assets that they have developed or acquired. If you have questions about the type of IP protection you need, we encourage you to read the list below to get started, and then we invite you to schedule a free consultation at AdamsIP.

The Four Basic Types of Intellectual Property in the U.S.

Trademarks and Service Marks

A trademark or service mark is a word, phrase, symbol, design or any combination of the above that serves to distinguish the source of a product or service. Your company’s name and the brands of your company’s products or services are all examples of trademarks or service marks. When adopting a trademark, you need to make sure that no other company has adopted a “confusingly similar” mark, as this will serve as a bar to the adoption of your company’s proposed trademark or service mark.


Copyrights protect creative expressions of ideas fixed in tangible media. Website designs, photographs, videos, written content, lyrics, sound recordings and software code are just a small sampling of the numerous types of assets that are eligible for copyright protection in the United States. While a work must be “original” (i.e. not copied) in order to be eligible for copyright protection, it is possible for two companies to separately and independently develop similar or identical works that are both eligible for copyright.


Patent law protects inventions. There are three types of patents – utility patents, design patents and plant patents. Patent applications can either be filed on a provisional or nonprovisional basis. In order to be eligible for patent protection, an invention must be novel, nonobvious, and must not be “anticipated” by prior art.

Trade Secrets

Trade secret law protects proprietary information that is derives commercial value from not being publicly known. Unlike trademarks, copyrights and patents, there is no registration system for trade secrets in the United States. Instead, trade secret owners must use secrecy and contractual protections to preserve the value of their IP assets, and they must be prepared to litigate if and when their proprietary information is publicly disclosed.

Schedule a Free Consultation at AdamsIP

Do you have questions about protecting your company’s or institution’s IP assets? If so, we are more than happy to help. To schedule a free consultation with one of our IP lawyers, please call 251-289-9787 or inquire online today.