What Is The Difference Between Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights and Servicemarks?

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A granted patent gives its owner “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” or “importing” the new and useful invention in the United States. There are three types of patents: Utility, Design and Plant.

A trademark (or servicemark) is a word, name, symbol, or device that is used in trade with goods (or services) to indicate the source of the goods (or services) and to distinguish them from the goods (or services) of others. The terms “trademark” or “mark” are commonly reference both trademarks and servicemarks. A trademark owner may prevent others from using a confusingly similar mark. However competitors may offer the same goods or services under a clearly distinguished mark.

A copyright protects creators of “original works of authorship” which may include literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and other intellectual works, either published or unpublished. The copyright gives the owner the exclusive right to reproduce the copyrighted work, or its derivatives, to distribute copies, to perform the work publicly, or to display the work publicly. The “form of expression” is protected rather than the subject matter. A description of a gadget would be protected under a copyright, but the gadget itself could be used or reproduced or described differently without infringing the copyright. Copyrights are registered by the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress, not with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

To find out more about how to protect your patents, trademarks, servicemarks and copyrights, contact us today.

– Van Irion, Knoxville Intellectual Property Attorney