Intellectual property (IP) is the term applied to intangible rights protecting the products of human intelligence and creation, including patents, trademarks/service marks, copyrights, and trade secrets.
If IP rights are not adequately protected, they can be lost or stolen. In the United States, some IP rights – copyrights and trademark rights – are automatically inferred upon the creation or use of the IP assets. Other U.S. IP rights – patents, in particular – require registration with the U.S. government before they may receive protection. IP rights (also referred to as "IPR") can vary by country, although various treaties and international agreements (such as, for example, the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)) are acting to globally standardize them. The Texas Secretary of State recommends consulting a private IP attorney concerning trademarks, copyrights. and other intellectual property matters.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the U.S. federal government agency which oversees patent and, on a national level, trademark issues. The USPTO administers the patent and trademark laws and the issuance of federal patent and trademark registrations. Free basic information on the patent and trademark system, forms, fees, products and services of the USPTO is available by calling the USPTO's toll-free line, (800) PTO-9199 or (703) 308-HELP. Also, check the USPTO website for information.