When you’ve stumbled upon an idea that has the potential to change the world and bring you financial returns, it is important to take the right steps to protect it from being copied or used by other parties for profit and without your consent. Our attorneys explain the difference between patents, copyrights, and trademarks and go over how each of them helps you keep your ideas safe from imitators.

What Is a Patent?

A patent protects an original invention. Patents are issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and are sub-divided into utility patents, plant patents, or design patents. Patents can be issued not only for actual machinery, appliances, and gadgets but also for software, pharmaceutical products, and even innovative business processes.

What Type of Intellectual Property Can Be Trademarked?

Trademarks protect a company’s unique branding identity. Think of the “M” symbol of a very popular fast-food chain or the red and white letters and logo of the country’s most popular cola drink. Those colors, letters, fonts, logos, and symbols together make up a brand identity that is easily identified by consumers.

Trademarks give owners exclusive use and ownership of specific elements that make up an organization’s branding. It may also extend to preventing other organizations from using a symbol, brand, or logo that looks or sounds similar enough to a trademarked asset.

What Is the Difference Between Copyrights and Trademarks?

Copyright protects original works of authorship. Books, articles, songs, photographs, or any other type of creative, original work produced in a tangible, fixed medium. Those who have the copyright of their work may control how the material is displayed, shared, performed, or licensed.

A trademark protects your brand rather than a portfolio of work. For example, if you are an artist, you may come up with a name, a logo, and brand colors for your art studio, and may want to trademark those elements so no other art studio may use a similar brand identity to yours. Once you start producing original works of art, you may want to copyright your works so you can have better control of how your work is reproduced, displayed, or performed.

Trademarks, copyrights, and patents are all designed to protect your original work or idea from being taken by others. If you are not sure which one is right for you, you may want to speak to an attorney that understands how to protect your intellectual property. At Davis Legal, PLLC, we can help you protect your unique idea – reach out by calling 919-756-6437 and request an initial consultation to learn more.