IP Symbols: What They Mean, Why They Matter and What They Protect
Intellectual property generally refers to the rights and interests of the owners and creators of original materials and inventions. Protection of IP has become vitally important in business. IP intensive industries account for over 40 percent of the United States GDP, equating to nearly $7.8 trillion dollars and 47.2 million jobs. Three common areas of IP are patents, trademarks and copyrights.
A patent refers to the exclusive rights granted to the inventor of a new product or process. The inventor applies for a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. A patent owner often will mark a product with the patent number, “patent”, or the abbreviation “pat” to notify others of their patent rights, but otherwise, there is no particular symbol used to identify a patent. Some products are marked with a “patent pending” notation; however, this simply means that a patent application has been submitted to the patent office and offers no form of actionable patent rights. The owner of a patent must diligently monitor the marketplace to identify “copycat” products that may infringe on the patent.