When you create something, you want to ensure that your invention is protected. Sometimes this comes in the form of intellectual property that requires a copyright: these are for artistic or written works, but not ideas. Trademarks are often confused with copyright, but they are not the same thing: trademarks refer to brand names, company names, symbols, logos, and other marks used for brand recognition. Finally, patents come in a variety of different types, such technological or mechanical inventions, medicines, plants, and other types of objects or technology.
There are other intellectual property types that are sometimes used less widely, such as trade secrets and some specific types of patents, like pharmaceutical and plant patents. Trade secrets refer to things like secret recipes or ingredients (think brand names like Coca-Cola, KFC, etc.). It’s important to note that, although things like copyright protect the written or artistic expression of ideas, they don’t protect the ideas themselves.
Patent filing is different from filing a trademark, but it goes through the same office: the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Copyright filing goes through the United States Copyright Office. However, while it’s generally necessary to file patents and trademarks to avoid infringement cases, copyright is technically granted as soon as a work is created; however, those looking to protect their works should still consider filing formally.
Why is it important to file a patent, trademark, or copyright? Simply put, it’s the easiest way to avoid intellectual property theft. If you’re not sure why that’s a threat, consider this:
- Nearly 25% of all traffic on the internet goes toward illegally consuming, downloading, or viewing intellectual property.
- Trade in counterfeit products (e.g. pirated movies) surged 7.6% between 2000 and 2007, and it’s not slowing down.
- Even colleagues and business partners can’t always be trusted: they accounted for approximately 17% of intellectual property infringement in recent years, with former employees guilty of 21% all IP theft.
What’s the best way to avoid this theft, besides copyright, trademark, and patent filing? Talk with a lawyer who is well-versed in the type of intellectual property you create. No matter which kind of intellectual property protection you’re looking for, you’ll want to speak with an intellectual property rights lawyer. Trademark, copyright and patent laws can be complex, so it’s important to ensure that your IP is looked over by an attorney. This can save headaches later, and you can receive accurate information pertaining to your copyright, trademark, or patent filing.
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