Copyright, trademark, and patent are types of intellectual property. The US’s intellectual property industry is valued at approximately US$6.6 trillion. This is more than any other country’s nominal GDP. Over 1/3 of the total U.S. GDP is made up by IP-intensive industries.

What is a Patent?

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office a patent is a grant of property rights by a sovereign authority of a property right to an inventor. This grant gives the inventor the exclusive right to the patent process, design, or invention for a certain period.

Patents confer exclusive rights on an invention. These products or processes offer a new way to solve a problem or provide a better way to do it. Patent applications must provide technical information on the invention to be granted.

Types of patents

In the United States, there are three types of patents available: utility patents, design patents, and plant patents. Each one has its specifications.

Utility Patents

Utility patents issue legal protection to people who invent a new and helpful process, an article of manufacture, the machine, or a composition of matter. Utility patents are the most common type of patent, with more than 90% of patents issued by the U.S. government. A utility patent lasts 20 years from the filing date as long as maintenance fees are paid. 

Design Patents

Design Patents are patents issued for original, new, and ornamental designs for manufactured products. Design patents protect a product’s design which must be original and useful. Designs patents last 15 years for all applications filed after May 13th, 2015. Patents for applications filed after May 13th, 2015, last 15 years. Design patents do not require maintenance fees.

Patents for plants

Plant Patents go to anyone who produces, discovers, and invents a new kind of plant capable of reproduction. These patents last for 20 years, and there are no maintenance fees.

Benefits of patents

Companies or individuals can use patents to encourage them to continue creating innovative products and services, even if they fear infringing. 

Patents are a way to protect intellectual property relating to inventions and increase profitability.  Patents can also be used to demonstrate innovation by companies.


How to Apply For a Patent

Before making a formal application, an applicant should research the Patent and Trademarks Office’s database to see if another person or institution has claimed a patent for a similar invention. An invention must be unique or improved upon a previously published design to be granted a patent.

Applicants should keep detailed records of the design process and the steps taken to create the invention. It is up to the applicant or the entity that applied to enforce the patent. An applicant must submit certain documents and pay associated fees to obtain a patent application in the United States.

Written documentation includes drawings and descriptions of the invention to be patented. In addition, an investor must sign a formal oath or declare that the invention is actual or improved upon an existing invention. After payment of the fee, your application will be reviewed.

What are Trademarks?

Trademarks provide legal protections for words, phrases, and designs identifying a product or service. Trademarks are intellectual property that helps improve the image and reputation of the service or product associated with and the company it belongs to.

A trademark is more than just a symbol. Some companies include it in their valuation. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office trademarks can be protected for as long as they are used, and the owner can defend them. The trademarks are Nike’s swoosh, McDonald’s golden arch, and Apple’s Apple.

A trademark:

  • Identifies the source of your goods or services.
  • Provides legal protection for your brand.
  • Helps you guard against counterfeiting and fraud

Acceptable trademarks

Strong trademarks are often creative and unique, which can help you stand out from your competitors. However, these trademarks can be fanciful or arbitrary and suggestive.

Fanciful trademarks:

These words are not invented. They have no meaning beyond the context of their products or services. For example, Exxon(r), for petroleum, and Pepsi(r), for soft drinks.

Arbitrary trademarks:

These words are not associated with the underlying goods and services. Consider the term apple. If an apple orchard wanted to register the name “apple” for a trademark that identifies the apples it grows, the trademark would not be possible. Apple(r), however, has been registered as an exclusive trademark for computers. Therefore, apple (r), a trademark for computers, is unique.

Suggestional trademarks:

These words are used to indicate quality but not necessarily state it. For example, Coppertone(r) is a sun-tanning product. Coppertone(r), a trademark, gives the impression that your skin will shimmer like copper when you use it as suntan oil.

What are Copyrights?

Copyrights provide legal protections for creative works of mind or, according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, “original works by authorship.” These rights include visual art, literary and other writings, choreography, and software.

Copyrights prohibit others from copying the work without permission. Like other intellectual property, copyrights are only granted for a limited time. This allows the owner to enjoy its creation. Copyrights can be granted for a maximum of 70 years after the author’s death. Works for hire or anonymous works are exempted from this restriction.

What are the benefits of federal protection?

While copyright, trademark and patent rights might seem to offer very little protection, they can be used wisely to maximize the value and benefit of an invention. They also allow world-changing technology to develop, protect, and be monetized.

Trademarks- This protects your trademark from being used by others without permission. It also helps prevent others from using a similar trademark with related goods and services.

Patents- Protect inventions and processes against copying, making, using, selling, or selling by other parties without the inventor’s consent.

Copyrights- This protects your exclusive right of reproduction, distribution, performance, or display of the created work and prohibits others from copying or exploiting it without the copyright holder’s permission.

Copyright Vs. Trademark Vs. Patent