Trademarks, Copyrights and Patents
This is just a quick tidbit on the complex
world of protecting intellectual property. For more info check
out the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) site at bottom
Starting a business may include the need
to register a trademark or copyright. Not necessarily right
away, but eventually you may want to protect certain ideas
or symbols that represent your business's identity and image.
Some trademarks are worth more than others. It has been cited
that the trademark for Coca-Cola is worth over a billion dollars!
Your trademark may not have that kind of value right now,
but you still need to protect yourself.
And then there are patents...
There are two kinds of patents, a design patent or a utility
The requirements for obtaining
a patent are:
- Only the idea, or formula for an invention
can be patented.
- The invention cannot have been patented
anywhere else in the world.
- The invention has to have a purpose.
- The invention can't just replicate
something already invented.
- It must be new and unique to what already
Obtaining a patent can be very expensive
and time consuming. It can take many years, and up to thousands
of dollars after the lawyer is paid. Generally a lawyer that
specializes in patents must file the papers and help in drafting
Copyrights are more common than patents,
and definitely more accessible. Just about every company has
information that needs to be copyrighted. A copyright gives
the owner of the work the right to make copies of the work
and revise the work. Some things that are often copyrighted
are: books, art, material, jewelry, movies, software, and
articles. When you write, or create work that is able to be
copyrighted it is automatically protected. To acquire even
more protection you may file a copyright registration form
with the Copyright Office. If you have someone other than
an employee create work for your business, for example a logo,
you probably want to have the creator sign a work for hire
document including the transfer of copyright.