- Intellectual property is the ideas you create. These ideas can be a product of research you have conducted and results you have found to be successful. Ultimately, intellectual property is your own thoughts, your own solutions to a problem that have not yet been discovered by others.
- A patent is a legal document for a design or invention stating that you created this design and it can not be used by others without your permission for a certain period of time.
- Trade secrets is knowledge gained by an employee of a company that can not be used for personal gain, such as making money in the stock market. Trade secrets could refer to a new invention or program that has been designed or knowledge that the company is acquiring a new company or is going under.
- Copyright deals with material that has been produced and is your own work. Copyrights prevent others from claiming your work as their own.
- Trademark is when you have an identifying symbol, logo, phrase, or words you have created to help identify a certain product (or sometimes person) and do not want others to use it as their own.
Understanding intellectual property is important for instructional designers because you do not want to infringe upon the rights of others while creating instructions. Intellectual property is protected under law, but once published can be used my designers as it is now public knowledge. Citation should always occur when using the work of others. This also protects intellectual property. Another aspect designers should understand about intellectual property is when you create something from your own ideas and own design, it is yours. Once it is published, anyone can access it and use it as well. If a designer wants to protect their work, they should consider having it copyrighted. Understanding copyright is essential as well. Copyright helps instructional designers know what material they can use in their work while still following copyright laws. Designers should also understand the fair use doctrine within copyright so they know it is okay to use pieces of media in a design. Copyright should also be understood so a designer knows to cite a source and provide credit for an idea to the proper party.