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The Difference Between Copyrights, Trademarks and Patents

The Difference Between Copyrights, Trademarks and Patents

Copyright and Trademark LawCopyrights, trademarks and patents often come up when working on projects with our clients. Now, of course, we aren’t lawyers, but we can help get you pointed in the right direction. It’s good to have an idea of what copyrights, trademarks and patents are.

The more you know, the more you can stay out of trouble. Here are the basic differences between copyrights, trademarks and patents…

Copyrights

A copyright is a protection that is given to authors to protect their original works. This includes things like writing, music, photographs, graphics, etc. What most people don’t realize is that copyright applies to work that is both published and unpublished. Remember, your exact work is copyrighted, but your idea is not necessarily protected by copyright law. If someone read this blog post and wanted to write their own post about copyrights, trademarks and patents, they could certainly do so… as long as none of the content is copied exactly. If you are interested in getting an official copyright, you will want to do so with the Library of Congress.

Trademarks

A trademark is a protection for a name, word or symbol that is used in the world of goods to distinguish one product from another. If you run a business called “Joe’s Hot Dogs,” you will want to trademark that name as well as your logo. Now, just because you have trademarked it does not mean that you are the only person who gets to sell hot dogs, right? Your name and your logo are protected with trademark law, but not your actual product.

Patents

A patent protects the work of inventors. Remember when we said that the name Joe’s Hot Dogs could be trademarked, but the actual hot dogs could not be? If Joe’s Hot Dogs has a secret recipe for delicious crispy hot dogs wrapped in bacon, deep-fried in peanut oil and stuffed with onions, sardines and ghost peppers, he could patent the recipe. Joe now has the right to exclude others from selling that exact same hot dog for 20 years after his patent has processed through the United States government.

Learn More About Copyrights, Trademarks and Patents

It’s always a good idea to stay sharp when it comes to legal matters in business. The more you know, the less likely you are to get into trouble. If you have questions about copyrights, trademarks and patents and how they pertain to your business, it is a good idea to ask your lawyer.

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Carolyn Byard

Carolyn is Iconic's art director and office dog handler. She strives to build unicorns, and she is completely obsessed with the fusion of beautiful design with strong strategy for unforgettable user interfaces.