10 Things To Know About Patents, Trademarks & Copyrights

Is a patent, trademark, or copyright the best form of protection for your intellectual property? To get to this answer, we need to understand what each of these uniquely protect. The United States Patent and Trademark Office describes each as the following: “A patent is a limited duration property right relating to an invention, granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in exchange for public disclosure of the invention.” “A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others” “A copyright protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture” Inventors often seek a patent to protect their invention, but an inventor may also have to obtain a copyright to protect their invention’s name and a trademark to protect a catchphrase or symbol associated with their invention. The form of protection available with a patent or trademark extends into more specific categories. For example, there are three types of patents: utility patents, design patents, and plant patents. Each comes with their own form of requirements to receive protection. Likewise, a trademark can be done on different levels: common law trademark protection, state trademark protection, and federal trademark protection. For a copyright, it is immediately granted to a creator after the work is produced. For the maximum amount of security (and to have the upper-hand in a legal dispute), it’s best to register your copyright. Don’t let the name deceive you, The Patent Professor ® has helped both inventors and small businesses with all forms of intellectual property including patents, trademarks, and copyrights.

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