What type of intellectual property protection an individual or company needs is often confusing. I have been asked to patent slogans and manuscripts, to copyright or trademark inventions and everything and anything in between.
What is a Copyright, Trademark and Patent?
A copyright protects works of authorship that has been expressed in a physical form. In other words, it protections an express of an idea. Examples include literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, including novels, movies, songs, and architecture. Except in certain situations (such as a work for hire or a work created under a pseudonym), the duration of copyright is the life of the author plus 70 years.
The term trademark generally refers to a word, phrase, symbol, design or combination of these that identifies and distinguishes the source of goods or services. More specifically, if the word, phrase, symbol, design or combination of these relates to the source of goods, then it is a trademark, or if it relates to the source of services, then it is called a service mark. Unlike copyrights or patents, a trademark can last forever, so long as the owner continues to use the mark in commerce and associated with the goods or services.
Finally, a patent protects an invention and gives an inventor the right to prevent others from making or selling the invention. In order to obtain patent protection, the invention must be novel, nonobvious and useful. The duration of protection depends on the type of patent granted. A design patent lasts for 14 years, and utility and plant patents last for 20 years.
And to make matters even more confusing…
There are times when one or more of these protections may apply. Let’s say for example you create a new product and then begin working on a marketing campaign which includes advertisements and a slogan about the product. The product may receive patent protection, and both trademark and copyright protection may apply to the market campaign. The new slogan may be covered by a trademark while the advertisements may be entitled to copyright protection.
Knowing the difference between a copyright, trademark and patent is important because each gives the owner a different set of rights for a different period of time. Business owners and individuals should speak with a lawyer to make sure that they are taking the necessary steps to protect their intellectual protection. If you have questions about this a patent, trademark or copyright issue, contact Attorney Katie Worman at (812) 463-2056 or by email at email@example.com.