Contact Us

For questions about the Admissions process, contact us at (415) 442-6630 or

Want to Learn More?

Request For Information

What Is Intellectual Property Law? And Why Does It Matter?

Aren’t the art and the creations around you a beautiful thing? These life enhancers fall under another category—intellectual property. 

Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind. This includes: 

  • Inventions 
  • Literary and artistic works
  • Designs and symbols, and
  • Names and images used in commerce. 

These intangible things can and should be protected. But how can you protect ideas? How can you protect owners of intellectual property from getting these ideas stolen? The answer is simple—with intellectual property law.

What is intellectual property law? Why should these goods and services be protected? Read on to find out more.


Intellectual Property Law and its Categories

Intellectual property law deals with laws that protect and enforce the rights of the creators and owners of intellectual property. The artist, the inventor, the writer, and more get protected by these laws. 

There are different categories of intellectual property law: 

  • Copyright law
  • Trademark and trade secrets, and
  • Patent law

While these may seem confusingly similar, each type of law deals with different types of intellectual property. 


According to the U.S. Copyright Office, “copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.” Copyright protection applies to original works of authorship. 

Copyright law protects work from getting appropriated and stolen without permission. It protects ownership. Once something is created and fixed in a tangible form, copyright exists. Creators can register their copyright in order to bring a lawsuit if their work gets stolen. 

Trademark and Trade Secrets

According to the United States Trade Act, a trade secret is, “information that 

  1. Derives independent economic value from not being generally known to and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use and 
  2. Is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.”

A trademark is any word, phrase, symbol, or design, or a combination thereof, used in commerce. Trademark protection protects it from counterfeiting and infringement. Trade secret protection keeps information from being disclosed where it should not.


A patent is any invention made by someone. It excludes anything that occurs in nature, such as honey from bees. 

Consequently, patent law protects the inventor. It gives them the exclusive right to produce it for 20 years before it becomes public domain.

Working in Intellectual Property (IP) Law

What is intellectual property law practice for attorneys? As an IP attorney, you counsel clients on establishing and protecting their intellectual capital. If someone wants to protect their intellectual property, they must file. The United States Patent and Trademark Office is where filing occurs. As an IP attorney, you aid clients looking to trademark, patent, or copyright.

Intellectual property functions at both the federal and state level. For example, copyrights are regulated by federal law and federal court. Conversely, trade secrets are regulated by state laws.

Intellectual Property at GGU

The Intellectual Property Law career track provides unparalleled access to emerging legal issues and opportunities in a range of cutting-edge specialties. Students not only have the ability to enroll in the IP track, but they can further specialize in patent law. 

Our downtown university campus is home to GGU Law’s own Intellectual Property Law Center which is a powerful resource. The faculty is among the nation’s most renowned IP experts. Plus, GGU is located in the tech capital of the world. San Francisco is filled with industry innovators who are changing the way we live and do business. These innovators all have intellectual property that needs protection. GGU is a top intellectual property law school in San Francisco.

GGU also offers the innovative JD Flex program. This program gives you flexibility while completing your degree. You can take online courses to make obtaining your degree easier. The JD Flex program allows you to continue working while you go to school. For those already working in IP law – such as patent agents – you can take the next step in your career, from patent agent to patent attorney.

If you are interested in protecting privacy, innovation, artistic expression, and brands, contact GGU today.

Read More

Scroll to Top