What are the Differences Among Copyrights, Patents, and Trademarks?
If you have a new idea that you think is unique and could make you a fortune by selling it, it would be in your best interest to patent, trademark, or copyright it. All three are protections that shield people who may try to copy your idea, make it their own, and make money out of it from doing so without legal consequences.
However, the three designations differ, each applying to a specific type of intellectual property. Consult an intellectual property protection lawyer to learn more about each and get legal guidance on protecting your creation or work.
Do Trademarks, Copyrights, and Patents Protect the Same Thing?
Trademarks, patents, and copyrights protect different types of intellectual property. A patent protects new inventions, a copyright protects original authorship work, and a trademark protects logos, brands, and slogans. A nationwide copyright law attorney explains more below:
What is a Copyright?
Copyrights are legal protections for original artworks, including books, movies, songs, photos, architecture, and software code. Copyright holders have the exclusive right to reproduce and profit from the underlying work.
The principle behind copyright laws is simple: if someone creates something original, they can choose what to do with it. Copyrights are automatic upon creating content because once the work is fixed in some tangible form, it belongs to the creator.
However, they can register with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to strengthen their rights and get stronger protections. Registering a copyright is always recommended as it provides the author with the right to commence a lawusit in federal court and provides aditonal damage remedies. A skilled copyright protection lawyer can help you through the process and tell you all you need to know.
What is a Patent?
A patent legally protects an original invention for a specific period and is granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). By giving a business or an individual the right to create a product without fear that the idea will be copied for the duration of the patent, the innovator can invest in the research and development of new products or services.
Patents are available in three types:
- Utility patent: It protects the creation of a new or improved product, machine, or process. The other name for utility patents is patent for innovation, which prevents other individuals or companies from using, selling, or making the same creation without consent from the original creator.
- Plant patent: This type of patent protects new and unique characteristics of a plant from being replicated, copied, or used by others. After filing the application, it lasts for 20 years, just like a utility patent. The patented plant must be genetically identical to the original plant and obtained through grafting, division, bulbs, budding, or root cuttings.
- Design patent: A design patent protects the unique look of a manufactured item. An example is a distinctive hood or headlight shape of a car. The visual elements may add to the car’s value, so the need to protect them with a patent to keep competitors from copying them without legal consequences.
An experienced nationwide patent law attorney can help you decide the most applicable patent for your product or service. They can also help you apply to have your work patented while monitoring the progress of the process.
Patent vs. Copyright
There is hardly an overlap between copyright and patent, but certain kinds of work can be protected by copyright and patent, for example, some computer programs. The patent complements the copyright by covering the functional aspects of the software not protected by the copyright.
What is a Trademark?
Trademarks are designed to protect a logo, symbol, slogan, phrase, or word. In other words, it protects the mark that identifies or distinguishes one product from another. Trademarks make it possible for businesses and the public to differentiate between products.
However, just because one company has a trademark for one of its products doesn’t mean other companies can’t use the same name for a different product type. The most important thing is that the usage of the name doesn’t confuse the consumer, making them mistake one product for the other.
The USPTO provides up to 45 trademark categories for goods and services. In most cases, similar items are grouped into the same class. It may be obscure where your product or service belongs, so it’s essential to consult a skilled trademark protection lawyer to help you choose the correct category.
In the same way as copyrights, trademarks can have some common-law protections even if not formally registered. On the contrary, trademarks can be renewed forever as long as the mark is still in use commercially.
Trademark vs. Copyright
Like copyright, one doesn’t need to register a trademark or service mark to receive protection rights. However, registering a trademark comes with various legal benefits, although there is rarely an overlap between trademark and copyright law.
As an illustration, you could use a graphic illustration as a logo and protect the design both under copyright and trademark. The primary difference is that the copyright protects the original expression of the work, while the trademark protects the business and goodwill associated with the word, symbol, design, or phrase.
A Skilled Trademark Protection Lawyer Helping You Protect Your Intellectual Property
Copyrights, patents, and trademarks protect intellectual property, preventing others from duplicating or stealing your ideas to benefit from them. While it’s not a requirement to trademark or copyright your ideas, doing so can save them and ensure you’re the only one who benefits from them. You’ll also have a legal ground to pursue action in case of infringement.
At our law firm, we work with clients to help them understand their rights regarding their intellectual property. We provide legal counsel and discuss their goals to help them get the best results possible. There is no issue too small or subject that is off limits when dealing with intellectual property. Talk to us today to learn your legal options.
Have additional questions about watermarking and copyrights? Click here to schedule an Initial Discovery Session with our intellectual property attorneys or call (888) 666-0062.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.