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3 Ways to Protect Your Intellectual Property

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You might think that once you create something - whether it's computer software, a dress, or an advanced manufacturing method - that you and your company have the rights to that intellectual property. Sometimes this is true, but any patent attorney will tell you it's much, much more complicated than simply claiming ownership.

Fortunately, there's an entire branch of the law designed to protect creators' rights to their intellectual property. There are three primary legal methods for protecting your IP: patents, copyrights, and trademarks. But if you aren't sure which applies to your invention, then you should probably hire a trademark and patent attorney. In the meantime, here's a quick primer on these important concepts:

Patent

Patents typically cover more traditional inventions and provide legal rights to the actual inventor, creator, or designer. Again, while this may sound straightforward, there are many obstacles between inventing something and actually securing a patent. Even worse, over the last 20 years, parent lawsuits have increased from about 500 a year to nearly 3,000 a year.

Patent attorney services from Twin Cities Patent can help you surmount these obstacles and obtain legal ownership over your invention.

Copyright

Copyright is the protection of original works of authorship that have to do with literary, musical, artistic, dramatic, or other intellectual and creative pieces of property. Thanks to the Copyright Act of 1976, copyright owners have the rights to reproduce the copyrighted work, full distribution rights, the ability to perform the work in a public space, and can publicly display the work.

Copyright generally focuses more on the protection of the expression and distribution of that creation, rather than merely the content of the creation itself. The work is protected from actually being copied, but copyright law does not protect the idea or essence behind the piece. Patents are used to protect the actual invention.

Trademark

A trademark protects words, symbols, names, or devices that were created to be used alongside a product or service in order to distinguish it from other products or services. Servicemarks are actually used for services, while trademarks generally deal with products. If you need help applying for a trademark, work with experienced trademark attorneys to get the professional assistance you need.

Trademark rights can be used to stop other people from using symbols or phrases that too closely resemble your original work. It should be noted, however, that trademark law does not protect the product or service, but only the name or symbol associated with it. Simply put, you would need a patent to protect your company's invention, but a trademark to protect the product name or company logo.

Because these laws can be confusing, it's essential that you work with patent law specialists and attorneys before, during, and after any of these processes.

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