Do You Need a Patent, Trademark or Copyright? An Attorney Can Help

Domestic patent process Obtain a patent Trademark lawyer

If you invent a product or produce an original work of art, you want to make sure your work is protected from others, especially if you are hoping to capitalize financially on it. You need the legal protection of copyright, trademark or a patent. Which one of these you need depends on a number of factors.

If you have produced original intellectual property, then it’s likely it will qualify for either copyright or trademark protection. If you have written a book or a song, produced a video or done some other form of written or visual work, it qualifies for copyright protection. In theory, copyright applies from the moment you create the original work. However, in practice, you will need to register your copyright if you hope to prevent others from stealing it. If your copyright is registered then you can file legal action if someone attempts to use it improperly.

If you have created a logo, brand or similar piece of work, then it is covered by trademark law. Words, names, symbols, slogans and a number of other items can be trademarked. You generally can’t trademark first or last names, nor can you trademark phrases that are in general use. A trademark lawyer can advise you on whether the item you have created is eligible for trademark protection.

If you have created something tangible — a physical product or component of a product — then it may qualify for patent protection. The patent process is long and complicated, and not every invention qualifies. The U.S. Patent Office gets around 500,000 patent applications every year, but only about 50% of inventions are successful in getting a patent. There are a number of reasons why patents are rejected. Among them are that the product is too similar to another or that it is not sufficiently new or unique. If you do receive a new patent, it will be good for a term of around 20 years from the date you filed the application.

It can be difficult to know whether you need the protection of a copyright, trademark or patent. That’s why it makes sense to work with a trademark lawyer or a lawyer with expertise in copyrights or patents. Though there are do-it-yourself services, you are likely to get the best outcome by working with an attorney.

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