Patents, copyrights and trademarks, as well as know-how or trade secrets, are often collectively referred to as intellectual property. Many firms have such property without even being aware of it or of the need to take measures to protect it.
Many people’s notions of intellectual property are unrealistic. Some believe, for example, that having a patent on a product will enable one to success in the market place. Consequently, they may spend thousands of dollars to obtain the exclusive rights to market something that no one wants or can afford to buy. Others may conclude that intellectual property protection is not worth the expense and bother.
People who may not interest in protecting their own rights still must take precautions to avoid infringing on the rights of others. This calls for more than the avoidance of copying. Copying is unavoidable it is a way of life and one way in which we learn. But, one can easily infringe on the rights of others without deliberately imitating specific features of goods or services.