Understanding the Difference Between Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks

Understanding the Difference Between Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks 

The Patent Procedure

A patent represents a set of exclusive rights granted to an inventor for a limited period in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention. The patent process typically begins with the birth of a groundbreaking idea. An inventor usually has a patent search done to verify the uniqueness of their invention. After confirming that their idea is one of a kind, they can move forward with creating a patent application, describing the invention comprehensively and outlining the range of protection desired. The patent application is often drafted by a patent lawyer, who will aid in the required modifications and legal procedures before filing it with the USPTO, the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It may also be filed with patent offices in other countries.

If you are interested in patent protection for your invention, donu2019t wait to contact us today. Gearhart Law is available to answer your questions and help you during the patent process. Call us today at 908-273-0700 for more information. 

Patent Pending: What Does it Mean?

After an application is submitted, the invention status turns to 'patent pending.' This phrase informs the public that the inventor has requested patent protection for their concept or invention. Although it doesn't provide complete legal protection, it acts as a deterrent to potential violators, dissuading them from imitating or using the invention.

Patent Examples

Patents may encompass a wide array of innovations u2013 from straightforward tools to intricate machinery, and even procedures or techniques. For instance, the procedure of creating a specific type of alloy, a novel design for a wind turbine, or a distinctive method of making a chemical compound can all be patented.

How to Patent an Invention

The act of patenting an invention requires several meticulous steps:

  • Perform a thorough patent search

  • Draft a comprehensive patent application

  • File the application with the patent office

  • Prosecute the application; this includes responding to office actions from the patent office

Although the procedure might appear simple, it demands a profound understanding of patent laws and protocols, which is why many inventors solicit the help of a patent attorney.

Copyright: A Brief Overview

Copyright protection is provided to original authorship works that are fixed in a tangible expression medium. This could encompass books, music, software, artwork, and other forms of creative expression. Unlike patents, copyright protection is automatically provided once a work is produced and doesn't necessitate a formal application procedure.

How to Copyright a Business

Companies can safeguard their original works, like software, promotional materials, or original written content, under copyright law. The procedure involves creating the work, marking it with the copyright symbol (u00a9), and optionally registering it with the copyright office for improved protection.

The Difference Between Copyright and Patent

While both copyrights and patents provide intellectual property protection, they fulfill different functions. Copyrights safeguard the expression of an idea, such as a story or a song, while patents safeguard the functionality of an invention or a novel idea.

Trademark: What is it?

A trademark is a mark, symbol, or phrase that distinguishes a company's products or services from those of others. It enables consumers to recognize a particular brand and is central to a company's brand identity and reputation.

Trademark Lawyer: Their Role

A trademark lawyer aids in the trademark search and registration procedure and provides legal advice concerning the utilization and protection of trademarks. They assist in conducting a trademark search, preparing and filing the application, and representing the client in case of disputes or violations.

Patent vs. Trademark vs. Copyright

Patents, trademarks, and copyrights are all forms of intellectual property protection, but they safeguard different types of assets. Patents safeguard inventions and innovations, copyrights safeguard original authorship works, and trademarks safeguard brand identifiers like names, logos, and slogans. 

Copyright Symbol and Other Intellectual Property Symbols

The copyright is used to indicate that a work is protected by copyright law. An author or copyright owner can use either u00a9 or the longer form u201cu00a9 [year] [owner Name]u201d u2013 e.g., u201cu00a9 2023 Jane Doeu201d u2013 whether or not the work is registered with the Copyright Office. The benefit of using the u00a9 mark is to prevent an infringer from claiming that they were unaware that the work was under copyright.

Trademark rights are signified using u2122 or u2120 for common law rights, and u00ae for federally registered trademark rights. u2122 is used in connection with goods, and u2120 is used in connection with services.

Patent protection is indicated by using the word u201cpatentu201d or the abbreviation u201cpat.u201d, together with the number of the patent. Proper patent marking serves as legal notice to an infringer, thereby allowing a patent owner to potentially sue an infringer in a patent infringement lawsuit. 

Finding a Patent, Copyright, or Trademark Lawyer 

Finding the correct patent lawyer, copyright lawyer, and trademark lawyer depends on your unique needs and invention. Since the patent process is complex, it is important you find a patent attorney that specializes in patent law, versus a general practitioner. 

At Gearhart Law, we believe in supporting entrepreneurs and small business owners alike. Contact us today at 908-273-0700 for your free consultation about your patent case, trademark case, or copyright case. 

The content herein is meant to be educational only and not to substitute for legal advice.  If you have a legal question please consult an attorney.

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