When starting a business, it is essential to protect your intellectual property. It means understanding the difference between patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Each of these forms of intellectual property offers different levels of protection, and it is essential to understand which one is right for your business. We will discuss the basics of each type of IP protection and help you decide which one is right for you.
Intellectual property is a broad term that refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, symbols, names, and images used in commerce. It includes both registered intellectual property (patents, copyrights, trademarks) and unregistered intellectual property (for example, trade secrets, confidential know-how).
It is essential to understand that patents, copyrights, and trademarks are not mutually exclusive. A business can have one or more of each type of intellectual property protection.
What is a Patent?
A patent is a form of intellectual property that grants the inventor of a new product or process exclusive rights to make, use, and sell the invention for a limited period. The patent holder can prevent others from making, using, selling, or importing the invention without permission. An inventor must file a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to obtain a patent.
The patent application must include a description of the invention and the steps for carrying out the invention's process. When necessary, the application must also include drawings or photographs of the invention. The patent will be valid for 20 years from applying.
Patents are in three forms:
- Utility Patents
- Design Patents
- Plant Patents
Utility patents are the most common type of patent. They protect inventions that are new and useful. Design patents protect the ornamental design of an object. Plant patents are granted for the discovery and asexually reproducing of a new plant species.
What is a Copyright?
A copyright is a form of intellectual property that protects the expression of an idea, not the idea itself. Copyright protection extends to literary, musical, and artistic works, such as books, songs, movies, paintings, and photographs. It also includes software, architecture, and choreography.
Copyright protection gives the copyright owner the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, perform, or display the copyrighted work. Copyright protection also gives the copyright owner the right to create derivative works based on the copyrighted work.
After work is registered, the copyright owner has the right to sue anyone who infringes on the copyright. Copyright infringement is the unauthorized use of a copyrighted work without the copyright owner's permission.
What is a Trademark?
A trademark is a form of intellectual property that protects words, names, symbols, or designs used to identify the source of a product or service. Trademark protection allows the trademark owner to prevent others from using the mark without permission.
Trademark registration is valid for ten years, and one can renew it indefinitely. There are three types of trademarks:
- Word marks
- Design marks
- Service marks
Word marks are trademarks composed of words, such as Coca-Cola and Nike. Design marks consist of symbols, logos, or designs, such as the Nike swoosh. Service marks are trademarks that identify the services of a company, such as FedEx.
The duration of trademark protection depends on the type of mark. Word marks and design marks are valid for ten years, and one can renew indefinitely. Service marks are helpful for 20 years, and one can also renew them indefinitely.
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As you can see, there are many different types of intellectual property, each with its own set of rules and regulations. It's essential to be familiar with the different kinds of intellectual property and protect them. It will help ensure that your ideas are protected and that you can reap the benefits of your hard work.
At PS Group, we guide clients through their journey to success, focusing on the generation of reach, revenue, margin. In artificial intelligence, we focus on how you can use it for your most valuable opportunities. Contact us today to learn more.