What Are The Differences Between Patents, Trademarks & Copyrights?

Dear M &M: I am confused. What are the differences between patents, trademarks, and copyrights? -Don

Dear Don: 

There are three types of intellectual property; patents, trademarks, and copyrights. A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, 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 or, in special cases, from the date an earlier related application was filed, subject to the payment of maintenance fees. US patent grants are effective only within the US, US territories, and US possessions.

For patent information, go to http://www.uspto.gov/patents/index.jsp or call 800-786-9199. A trademark is a word, name, symbol or device which is used in trade with goods to indicate the source of the goods and to distinguish them from the goods of others.  The second type of intellectual property is sometimes called a service mark. 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. Finally, a copyright is a form of protection provided 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authorship” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished.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.

For copyright information, go to http://lcweb.loc.gov/copyright/.  Or call (202)-707-3000 –Source: USPTO-. In Arizona one can reserve a tradename through the office of the Secretary of State by contacting the Business Services Division, 1700 W Washington St Fl. 7, Phoenix AZ 85007-2808, or by calling 602-542-6187 or 1-800-458-5842. Filing a trademark in Arizona registers a logo or slogan to be displayed on goods or services for public record. Trademarks also are referred to as service marks.

These, too, are not required to be filed, but is an acceptable business practice. These Arizona filings are only applicable in Arizona and are not substitutes for national filings. If you want to file nationwide, you may want to consult the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Source: az.gov.

-M&M

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