If you are an inventor and you want to protect an invention, then a patent is what you need. Once you have registered a patent for your invention, you become the official owner and no other person has the right to use your invention without your explicit permission. A patent will help you protect your invention from your competition generally for up to 20 years from the date you have registered it.
There are a few general things you might need to know about patents:
- In order to be able to apply for a patent, you need to not have publicly disclosed your invention prior to filing for a patent. So make sure you keep all the information safe.
- Once you have filed for a patent your invention will be made public, generally within 18 months after you have filed your application.
- “I didn’t know about it” is not a reason for you or anyone else to infringe in someone else’s patent.
The term “Trademark” refers to protection for distinctive graphic elements used to identify and differentiate one trader from another in the market. They are extremely important for the success of a business since they are associated with each trader’s image and services or products and directly connected with the company’s reputation and the goodwill that it has built up over the years. A trademark can be a word, a logo, a shape, combination of colors, a combination of words and colors and so on. By registering your trademark you make sure that no competitor will benefit from the image you have created by using your logo/name or a very similar one.
As a trademark you can also register a product characteristic under the industrial design category. You can register its shape or configuration, a form, an ornament or a pattern, as long as the element you want to register is evidently enhancing its aesthetic value and not it’s utility.
You can file an application for copyright if you need to protect a computer program, a song, a film, a book or any other creation of this type. Copyright gives you the right to protect your creation from anyone who might try to use it at is it or in some other form without asking or having your permission.
There are a lot of products being chosen every day from the shelf just because of their attractive design. From expensive cars to appealing perfume bottles, design is one of the elements that can bring a lot of money. Companies invest a lot of time, money and human resources in creating new, distinctive and attractive designs and this is why design, like any valuable element, needs to be protected. Design is one of the elements used by companies to differentiate their products from the ones of the competition. It is therefore extremely important to protect it from being copied.
Design protection can also be a source of money if the company wants to license it to a third party and grant the permission of using it in exchange of a mutually agreed amount of money.
|Who typically seeks this protection?||Copyright: Copyright protection is usually used by creative professionals such as artists, choreographs, authors, architects and so on.
Trademark: Trademark protection is usually used by businesses and product owners.
Utility patent: Generally a utility patent is used by inventors.
Design Patent: Design patents are usually used by inventors and designers.
|What does it protect?||Copyright: Copyright protection covers original works of authorship fixed in a tangible form, such as books, sound recordings, sculptures, architectural works, articles, songs, etc. It is important to note that an idea by itself cannot be protected by copyright if it doesn’t take a tangible form.
Trademark: A trademark will protect any text or graphic element used to identify and distinguish a brand or a business (e.g. word, slogan, name, symbol, design).
Utility patent: Utility patents are used to protect inventions that bring something new or improve the way something works (e.g. a machine, a process, a chemical composition).
Design Patent: A design patent will offer protection for any ornamental design of an article of manufacture if the design does not directly influence the article's function.
|What benefits does registration/filing include?||Copyright: By registering your creation for copyright you obtain legal evidence and public notice of your ownership. You can also bring suit in federal court if someone else is using your creation without your approval.
Trademark: Registering your trademark offers you nationwide exclusive rights, provides you legal evidence, public notice of ownership, gives you the right to bring federal lawsuit in case of infringement and to use the ® symbol.
Utility patent: A utility patent gives exclusive rights of use to its owner meaning that others don’t have the right to make, use, sell, or import the protected invention. Without a utility patent, the creator does not benefit from any form of protection.
Design Patent: A utility patent gives exclusive rights of use to its owner meaning that others don’t have the right to make, use, sell, or import the protected invention. Without a utility patent, the creator does not benefit from any form of protection.
|How long does it last?||Copyright: Registering a copyright offers your protection for the entire duration of your life and an additional 70 years. It cannot be renewed nor extended.
Trademark: Technically, it is unlimited with the condition of being renewed every 10 years and to make sure the mark is in continue use.
Utility patent: You can file for two types of utility patents: a provisional patent which is easier and cheaper to obtain, lasts for 1 year and offers the possibility of testing the invention on the market while being protected and a full non-provisional utility patent which lasts for 20 years.
Design Patent: The protection offered by a design patent is for 14 years and cannot be renewed.