Patents, trademarks, and copyrights… oh my! There are multiple forms of intellectual property to protect your ideas, but what are the differences between the three? We have a quick guide to explain.
All of these intellectual properties have a main goal, to prevent the unlawful copying of ideas. Intellectual properties also encourage others to create new ideas. But what does each protect and how long do they last?
A copyright protects artistic and literary works, such as books, plays, and movies. The legal right of copyright grants the creation of original works, giving exclusive rights for its use and distribution. The duration of copyright usually protects the author for a lifetime, plus an additional 70 years.
A trademark protects individuals and companies who produce artistic and technological works such as logos, brand names, designs, sounds, and even smells. For example, NBC trademarked their famous chime sound and Playdoh trademarked the smell of their product. Even though the registration process is very thorough, it is worth it, as it offers extra protection for your ideas as well as exclusive national usage. Trademarks usually do not expire, as long as they are still being used by the individual or company who registered the trademark.
Trademarks and copyrights seem similar, but they are actually handled by completely different offices within the federal government. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office strictly handles trademarks, where copyrights are handled through the U.S. Copyright Office.
Patents protect scientific and technological work such as drugs, inventions, and technologies. Patents only last 20 years from the date the patent was filed, which raises the bar when it comes to competition. Since your ideas are not protected automatically, those who want to protect their inventions need to apply for a patent. This process can take a long time, but with the help of a patent attorney in Phoenix, you can be sure that your application will be thorough, for a better chance of being approved.