Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks are confusing to some extent, even though there are some similarities among these tools of property protection, they all serve different purposes.
A Patent for an invention is the inventor's property right to his invention, issued by the Patent and Trademark Office. 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.
US Patent grants are effective only within the US, US territories, and US territorial possessions.
A Patent owner is granted the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the said invention without permission.
A Trademark is a word, name, symbol or device which is used in the trading of goods to indicate the source of the goods and to distinguish them from the goods of other manufacturers.
A service mark is the same as a Trademark except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product.
The terms "Trademark" and "Mark" are commonly used to refer to both Trademarks and service marks.
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.
Copyright is a form of protection that is granted to the authors of "original works of authorship" including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished.
The 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to reproduce the Copyrighted work, to prepare derivative works, to distribute copies or phono records of the copyrighted work, to perform the copyrighted work publicly, or to display the Copyrighted work publicly.
The Copyright protects the form of expression rather than the subject matter of the writing. For example, a description of a machine could be Copyrighted, but this would only prevent others from copying the description; it would not prevent others from writing a description of their own or from making and using the machine. Copyrights are registered by the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress.
It follows therefore, that if you have invented, what you consider to be a new invention, then you must take out a Patent to protect your product from being unscrupulously copied by your competitors.
It is advisable to conduct a search of the Office of Records before filing an application for Patent, Copyright or Trademark?
You can conduct a free search on the USPTO website using the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) at: TESS
You can also conduct a trademark search at the Trademark Public Search Library. Use of the Public Search Library is free to the public.
You can also conduct a search at a Patent and Trademark Depository Library near you.
Any literary, musical or artistic works that you have composed or conceived should also be protected by copyright in the same manner.
If you have produced your own Trademark to identify your works this must also be registered to protect your interests.
Registration can be effected at the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Further details can be found on the USPTO site: http://www.uspto.gov/main/trademarks.htm
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