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The difference between patents, trademarks and copyright

On Behalf of | Jun 2, 2022 | Business & Commercial Law

Intellectual property involves the things you create for your business that set it apart from others. Any names, inventions, processes or designs you create uniquely for your business are assets worth protecting.

Whether you need a patent, a trademark or copyright protection depends on what type of intellectual property you seek to protect. Many businesses employ all three forms of protection for various needs.

What is a patent?

Patents protect the rights of the inventor. You can seek patent protection from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for anything new and useful created for your business, along with the design and process for the invention. If granted, patents offer protection for up to 20 years.

What is a trademark?

You can seek trademark protection for words, phrases or symbols that distinguish your goods or services from others that are similar. They are the identifiable names, logos or catchphrases that make consumers or customers think of your business when they encounter them.  You can apply for trademarks through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

What is copyright?

Copyright protects the works of authors and creators. You may seek copyright protection for unique and original works of literature, music, art, sculpture, film and computer programming. Copyright protects a creator’s right to control their original material’s reproduction, distribution and performance. You can register a work with the U.S. Copyright Office.

You may also seek to protect your company’s trade secrets. Any confidential information that gives your business value because others do not know it and would make your business less valuable if known is a trade secret.