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Guide to Intellectual Property: IP is Everywhere

Intellectual Property

Think about your morning routine: you turn off the alarm on your phone, take a shower, brush your teeth, maybe brew a cup of coffee and eat some breakfast. Perhaps you put on some clothes from a brand you like and proceed to commute to work while listening to a song from one of your favorite artists. Though you might not know it, in each part of this sequence, intellectual property (IP) is all around you, from the trademarked logos on your shampoo bottles and cereal boxes to the copyrights protecting your favorite songs.

Referring to creations of the mind that are expressed in a sharable form or in a way that others can recreate, emulate or manufacture, IP is in the products we use, the entertainment we enjoy  and even the food we consume.

Let’s say for example that you’re in the mood for some Starbucks® coffee to wake up in the morning. In this one product, behind the scenes, multiple components of IP are hard at work.



Starbucks owns numerous patents relating to everything from the technology used to grind the coffee to the beverages themselves, as well as the cups and lids that hold them. Patents like these prevent other companies from using similar designs and solutions.  



Starbucks’ iconic circular mermaid logo is one of the most recognizable trademarks in the world. Because the company owns a trademark on this image, competing coffee manufacturers are not able to create a similar logo that would cause a consumer to confuse Starbucks with a competing brand. Starbucks also owns trademarks on the names of its drinks and food items in their cafés.


Trade Secret

In order to source and roast millions of pounds of coffee each year, Starbucks likely has trade secrets surrounding its methods of distribution. More than 30,000 Starbucks stores worldwide require constant restocking of materials, and to achieve this, a complex series of steps must take place before you can take your first sip.


The Hidden Power of Intellectual Property

IP provides the incentive to create. Without these protections, the theft of ideas would be commonplace. Next time you go about your daily routine, think about all the products you use and each piece of entertainment content you consume, and you’ll find that the hidden power of IP is at work.  

To learn more about IP, check out additional topics in our informative “Guide to Intellectual Property” series by visiting our blog.

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