What is Intellectual Property Protection? | MAKO Design + Invent

How MAKO Design + Invent Uses Intellectual Property for Our Clients

At MAKO Design + Invent, we love to provide our clients with the best resources we have and as much information as possible about the design process that goes behind building their new innovative product to help them start their entrepreneurial journey off on the right foot.

As a product development firm that deals with dozens of different projects and clients daily, an extremely important value that we uphold here at MAKO Design + Invent is protecting your intellectual property.

Whether you are still planning the details of your next big invention or are currently in the middle of bringing your product to life, comprehensively understanding intellectual property is extremely important to ensure the protection of your product idea and future business.

Let’s delve into what intellectual property protection is and the different ways you can claim the rights to your invention idea!

What is Intellectual Property Protection?

Simply speaking, Intellectual Property Protection is a form of protection that exists specifically for ideas that come from the mind – hence the term ‘intellectual.’ This can include protection for inventions, literary and artistic work, symbols, names, images, and designs used for commerce.

As an entrepreneur or new startup founder, it is vital that you understand the core frameworks of intellectual property in order to ensure you have put in place the best protection for your unique and hard-worked creations.

If you have an ingenious idea that you firmly believe would do well in the market, it is important to apply for intellectual property protection as soon as possible to prevent it from being sold, stolen, or used for profit without your consent or benefit.

One recommended course of action is reaching out to an intellectual property attorney who can assess your invention idea and guide you to the right type of intellectual property protection that will work best for your product. However, there are several ways to earn intellectual property protection.

The Different Kinds of Intellectual Property Protection

Depending on the type of invention idea you have, whether or not there are similar products already on the market, and your plans for establishing your product business, there are different types of intellectual property protections that you should pursue. A few common ones are patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets.


The most popular type of intellectual property protection that inventors commonly use is a patent. A patent grants the inventor property rights to an invention idea, which allows them to hold exclusive rights to their idea. This enables the holder to ensure that no one else can make, sell or use their invention idea.

With a patent, you own your invention concept and can begin your product design process without the worry that anyone will enter your market with your idea before you or afterwards as a competitor. Moreover, in the case that someone copies or steals your patented invention, design or design, you can take legal action against them.

It is vital to get legal intellectual property protection for your product as soon as possible. Otherwise, anyone can use similar designs, products and processes such as yours without risk.

If you decide to go public with your invention idea and don’t file for patent protection within 12 months of its public release, the opportunity to apply and receive a patent will be gone. Patents work on a “first come, first serve” basis, so it’s important that you patent your invention idea before someone else does.

The process for filing for a patent is long and complicated, so the strategy team at MAKO always recommends getting a qualified and highly experienced patent attorney. It is also important that you specifically determine who will own the idea, whether it be the inventor themselves or the company that the inventor chooses to collaborate with or develop their invention for.

There are three types of patents available: utility, design, and plant.

A utility patent is the most common patent that inventors pursue, as it covers all processes, machinery, and manufacturing techniques that creating your invention idea entails, as well as the physical composition.

A utility patent lasts for 20 years and is used for groundbreaking, unique inventions that possess immense utility. This means that the invention must be new and not seen before produced by anyone else. The invention must also not be immediately obvious to an expert in its targeted industry.

A design patent lasts 14 years and covers any new and original design made for manufacturing.

A plant patent lasts 20 years and is a patent specifically made for new varieties of plants.


A trademark is a type of intellectual property protection most commonly used for words, phrases, symbols or designs that help distinguish a brand or company from another. To file for a trademark, you must make sure that your word, phrase, symbol or design is distinct and exceptionally different from anything used before by a brand or inventor.

An example of a trademark is the Nike “Swoosh” logo. If you already have a logo, brand name or slogan in mind, it is best to conduct a trademark search to minimize the chance of wasting time and money by realizing your mark is already registered or trademarked later in the product design process.

Make sure you have a clear idea of the mark, as well as the class of goods or services the mark will apply to. Until receiving a trademark, the inventor or business is free to use the TM symbol to indicate your ownership of the mark. The TM symbol holds no actual legal weight, but it does show others that you intend to claim the mark legally.

After receiving your trademark, you can legally add the ® symbol to your mark. A trademark can last for ten years until it must be renewed!


Copyrights are the predominant type of intellectual property protection used for the original works of art. This includes literary works, music, dramatic works, choreography, sculptures, pictorials, graphics, sounds, architecture, and computer software.

With copyrights, the owner has exclusive rights to not only own their work but also be able to modify, distribute, perform, create, display and copy the work when creating future pieces.

In order to receive copyright laws, the work must be presented through a tangible medium, such as words on paper or musical notes on a sheet. A copyright exists the moment the work gets created, so registration is essentially voluntary.

Trade Secrets

Trade secrets are a special kind of intellectual property protection that safeguards a formula, device, process or integral piece of business information that a company must keep private in order to maintain its advantage over competitors.

Common examples of this include secret recipes/formulas, clientele lists, survey and data results, and computer algorithms. Trade secrets don’t entail obtaining protection through registration because their protection is only solidified by taking the necessary steps to control the disclosure of pertinent information.

For example, MAKO uses Non-Disclosure Agreements to protect the information and confidentiality of the invention ideas we hear from our clients’ free product consultations daily.

Non-disclosure agreements are one of the many examples of how businesses instill security practices to maintain the protection of trade secrets. Other examples could be restricted access to confidential information and restrictive post-employment covenants. 

How We Use Intellectual Property Protection at MAKO

A question we frequently receive at MAKO Design + Invent is if we provide forms to secure intellectual property protection for our clients’ ideas and products. Rather than offering intellectual protection property through registration, we offer an NDA.

As mentioned in the above section on trade secrets, an NDA (Non-disclosure agreement) is a form of intellectual property protection we steadfastly use at MAKO Design + Invent to protect our clients’ ideas while we work with them to bring their invention ideas to life.

We always send an NDA to all our clients immediately after they contact us, even before we set up an initial consultation. This ensures the confidentiality and protection of our clients’ product ideas before our free product strategy consultation and before the design process begins.

Another common question we receive at MAKO Design + Invent is if we have an in-house intellectual property protection attorney. Although we don’t offer guidance from an in-house attorney, we have an expansive network of the most reliable and experienced patent attorneys and offices that we know.

If you have a great new invention idea and you’d like to learn more about this process, get in touch with MAKO today and visit our website to find out more. Or feel free to give us a call at 1-888-806-MAKO, and we can set you up on a call with our product strategist!

About: MAKO Design + Invent is the original firm providing world-class consumer product development services tailored to startups, small manufacturers, and inventors. Simply put, we are the leading one-stop-shop for developing your physical product from idea to store shelves, all in a high-quality, cost-effective, and timely manner. We operate as one powerhouse 30-person product design team spread across 4 offices to serve you (Austin, Miami, San Francisco, & Toronto). We have full-stack in-house industrial designmechanical engineeringelectrical engineeringpatent referralprototyping, and manufacturing services. To assist our startup and inventor clients, in addition to above, we help with business strategy, product strategy, marketing, and sales/distribution for all consumer product categories. Also, our founder Kevin Mako hosts The Product Startup Podcast, the industry's leading hardware podcast. Check it out for tips, interviews, and best practices for hardware startups, inventors, and product developers. Click HERE to learn more about MAKO Design + Invent!

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