So you came up with an idea which you think could potentially change the world, and you have the resources to bring it to fruition, what should you do first? Surely you can immediately duplicate your idea and show it to the world… but would it be better if you can protect your creation and your rights as its creator by registering the same under your name?
In securing your intellectual property, you can either apply for a patent, a trademark, or a copyright. What are the key differences of each?
A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Generally, the term of a new patent is 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, in special cases, from the date an earlier related application was filed, subject to the payment of maintenance fees. The right conferred by the patent grant is, in the language of the statute and of the grant itself, “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention in the United States or “importing” the invention into the United States.
On the other hand, a trademark is a word, name, symbol, or device that is used in trade with goods to indicate the source of the goods and to distinguish them from the goods of others. Trademark rights may be used to prevent others from using a confusingly similar mark, but not to prevent others from making the same goods or from selling the same goods or services under a clearly different mark.
Meanwhile, a copyright is a form of protection provided to the authors of “original works of authorship” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished. The copyright protects the form of expression rather than the subject matter of the writing.
Applying for a patent, a trademark, and/or a copyright can be complicated, as the bureau that manages the process was established and has been existing since the 1800s. Getting the services of an attorney can help you navigate through the tricky legalese of intellectual property registration and record your innovation with ease. At the end of the day, you deserve all the right that the laws could afford you for your novel contribution to humanity.
Source: US Patent and Trademark Office