Intellectual property (IP) is the result of imagination, thought, ingenuity and process. Owners of IP are protected by federal patent, trademark, copyright, and state trade secret laws. Generally speaking, patents protect tangible inventions of things; copyrights protect numerous forms of written and artistic expression; trademarks protect fictitious names or symbols used to identify goods or services; and trade secrets (protected at the state level) may include any formula, pattern, device or compilation of information that is unknown to others and used in your business that provides you an advantage over competitors.