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Copyright vs. Trademark vs. Patent

Some people confuse patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Although there are some general similarities among these kinds of intellectual property protection, they are all different from one another and serve different purposes.

What is a copyright?
A copyright protects authors of “original works of authorship” ranging from literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and other different kinds of intellectual works, whether they’re published or unpublished. You, as the owner of the copyright, have the exclusive right to reproduce your work, prepare derivative work, or distribute, perform, or display. It’s important to keep in mind the copyright protects the form of expression rather than the subject matter.

What is a trademark?
A trademark is a word, name, or symbol that is used in trade to indicate the source of the item, product, or service. Trademark rights are often used to prevent others from using a similar mark, which may become confusing but doesn’t prevent others from selling a similar item, product, or service under another mark.

What is a patent?
A patent for an invention is a grant of property right to the invention. Typically, the term of a new patent is 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States, though there are special cases. A patent excludes others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention in the U.S. or importing the invention into the US.

Oftentimes, it can be confusing, particularly for new small business owners to determine exactly what is necessary for their business when it comes to copyright and trademark law. Catanese & Wells is a top Ventura County business lawyer who can aid you in the decision and proper steps to take when trademarking or copyrighting your property.