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Patents, copyrights and trademarks: What’s the difference

| Mar 4, 2021 | Intellectual Property |

In the modern business environment, the most valuable asset you may have is your company’s intellectual property.

Just the same, it’s common for people to misunderstand the differences between copyrights, patents and trademarks. Here’s what you should know.

What is a copyright?

A copyright is essentially your vested rights to any piece of original work you have created. You can hold a copyright to a piece of music, a book, artwork or a piece of code (among other things).

Your copyright can be licensed, assigned and even sold, among other things. As long as you hold the copyright, you control the way your work is accessed and used.

What is a patent?

Patents are protections that exist on inventions. They can cover brand new inventions and improvements on existing processes, machines and other inventions.

Unlike a copyright, a patent is not automatic. One must be obtained through the U.S. Patent and Trademark office and that process is both complicated and time-consuming. Patents give you some exclusive rights that can be valuable to your business.

What is a trademark?

This is the word, symbol, phrase, graphics, musical notes or design that alone or together distinguishes your brand from all other brands. Think, for example, of the iconic “Apple” logo that identifies everything that brand creates.

There may often be some overlap between copyrights and trademarks, especially if you created your own unique design. Like a copyright, you don’t necessarily have to register your trademark to protect it, but it’s often wisest to do so.

What can you do to protect your intellectual property rights?

Ideally, you should work with an attorney who understands the energy, effort, time and resources that went into creating your intellectual property. Get assistance protecting your intellectual property rights so you can get back to running your business with confidence and security.