Understanding the differences between patents and trademarks can help protect what needs protecting and help those wishing to obtain protections for their intellectual property obtain the protections they need and the best legal option for their situation. Familiarity with the legal resources available is key to protecting intellectual property.
Intellectual property refers to unique ideas and concepts that potentially hold value. Patents, trademarks and copyrights are all distinct types intellectual property. Patents are property rights assigned by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Once a patent has been granted, the patent holder may exclude others from using, making or selling an invention for a certain period of time. There are 3 different types of patents including utility patents, design patents and plant patent that those seeking patent protection should be familiar with.
While patents prevent others from making or selling a patented, protected, invention trademarks protect words, phrases, logos and symbols used to identify the source of goods or services. Trademarks give the owner of the trademark exclusive use of certain images and phrases and the right to prevent others from using a similar or confusing mark on their goods or services. In some circumstances, patents and trademarks can overlap in some situations. Copyrights are a third category of intellectual property protection which protects published and unpublished original works.
It is useful to know how to navigate the intellectual property process and how it can protect what inventors, entrepreneurs and writers, for example, have worked so hard for. The legal process provides valuable protections for intellectual property it is essential to understand how to use to protect what is important to them.