All those great ideas you have had for new products, services, or artistic expressions are considered intellectual property. The problem is, if you do not take steps to protect this intellectual property, you may just find that someone else capitalizes on them before you do. The good news is, the law provides you with many different tools to protect the different forms that intellectual property can take. Below you will learn more about these legal tools and how you can use them to protect your thoughts and creations.
A patent allows you to protect a new invention. This invention may be a completed product or a prototype. However, if you choose to file a patent for a prototype, you will need to hire a patent attorney to file a new petition for any design changes that you make prior to developing the product. A failure to request a new patent could result in your final product not being covered under the protections of your original patent.
When obtaining a patent for a new product, you will essentially be given the right to prevent anyone else from manufacturing, selling, or distributing your product without your direct permission. This patent will also prevent U.S. companies from importing identical products from international companies since a U.S. patent will only provide protection for your invention within the United States.
The protections provided by your patent will only last a certain number of years. The length of this protection will be indicated in the terms of the patent. Furthermore, you may be required to pay patent maintenance fees during the life of your patent in order to maintain the protections that it provides.
The special way that you present a product or service can make a big difference in your ability to compete with other similar businesses. A trademark allows you to protect this special way of doing things by indicating where the product comes from and preventing other companies from replicating your process. For instance, your business may offer a huge cheeseburger platter known as the monster plate. While your business certainly will not be the only place in town that offers a cheeseburger meal, you can choose to trademark the name of your platter in order to prevent others from capitalizing on your marketing efforts or using your reputation to sell more of their own products.
Copyrights apply to intellectual property that takes the form of an artistic expression. For instance, written words, songs, or paintings can all be protected by a copyright.
Just like a patent, a copyright will provide you with the right to prevent others from selling or distributing your intellectual property without your express permission. However, unlike a patent, a copyright petition requires that you have completed the product that you wish to protect. Therefore, while you can copyright a finished song, you cannot copyright an idea for a new song.
Hello, I'm Christina Miller. Have you ever been fascinated with why the law works the way it does? Ever since I was in junior high, I had an intense interest in anything related to our legal system, whether it be a crime drama on television, a judge show or a legal case covered on the news. I followed it all. As time progressed, I began learning about how the actual legal system worked and not just the fictionalized version of our legal system. This has lead me to start writing my own blog posts about law that I hope will help others.