Understanding the differences between patents, trademarks, and copyrights is essential for any creative entrepreneur. A thorough grounding in the concepts and definitions of these basic protections for intellectual property will provide you with a solid basis for protecting your inventions, creative works, and corporate reputation. Enlisting the help of a business attorney or a patent agency, such as InventHelp patent services, is an important step in ensuring your intellectual property is secure, but it’s equally important to inform yourself about the various methods by which individuals and companies can safeguard their creative efforts and protect their financial interests.
Within the United States, patents are granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for inventions. A patent offers the holder exclusive rights to an original process, machine, or invention or to any significant improvement to an existing patented process. Patents may be awarded for biological inventions or discoveries, for software processes or programs, for new chemical processes or compounds, and for business processes that are markedly original or unique. Patents do not confer the right to manufacture the invention, but rather prevent others from manufacturing it for a set period of time, usually twenty years. In some cases, a patent holder may not be legally entitled to manufacture the device; this usually occurs in cases where the patent is granted for a significant improvement to an existing patented device. Without obtaining permission from the patent holder for the existing device, the holder of the new patent cannot manufacture the improvement. Such patents are generally either sold or retained until the original patent expires.
Trademarks are the easily recognizable symbols and signs of a particular individual, business concern or organization. Trademarks are divided into three categories: unregistered trade marks, unregistered service marks, and registered trademarks. Typically, unregistered trade and service marks are only valid in a limited geographical area; registered trademarks are protected throughout the country in which the trademark was granted. Trademarks are used to identify the makers of products and the providers of services in the consumer market; as such, they are valuable commodities and should be protected against imitation. Registered trademarks must be obtained through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and offer significantly more legal protection to their holders than other types of trade and service marks.
One of the most inclusive and versatile types of intellectual property protections, copyright confers exclusive rights to authors of creative works, including plays, works of fiction, maps, musical compositions, works of art, photographs, motion pictures, dance choreography, architectural blueprints, and software. Unlike patents, copyright does not protect the ideas or concepts within the work, but only the way in which those ideas are expressed. For instance, copyright protections apply to the “look and feel” of certain works of art and software programs, protecting their stylistic elements without protecting the subject matter with which they deal.
Copyright is obtained automatically upon setting the material down in a fixed form such as print, canvas, or digital media. While copyright is the easiest form of intellectual property protection to obtain, it can be the hardest to defend. It is usually advisable to seek help from professionals, such as InventHelp patent invention agency, or legal counsel in order to protect your creative rights.
When you have a great idea, you need to do everything you can to protect it. We’ve all heard the story of poor old Joe Blogs, who thought of the next big invention, only for somebody to steal it from underneath his very nose.
The most common reason for idea theft is not having a patent. A patent protects an individual from having their invention or idea copied and monetized, without them receiving the appropriate compensation for it.
Many businesses or individuals make a fatal mistake when it comes to patents: they delay in getting one. Their plan may still have some kinks in it, or their invention may not be shop ready yet. Whatever the reason, the delay can have devastating financial consequences.
Think provisional patent
A provisional patent is a prequel to an actual patent. It protects prototypes and intellectual property before a real patent is filed. It allows somebody the chance to develop their product idea further, before attempting to get a full one a year later. In this time, the viability of an idea or invention can be established, as can commercial potential.
While it isn’t quite full protection, a provisional patent does offer a strong deterrent against theft. The legal filing number can be placed on any document, prototype or advertisement, deterring anybody looking for a quick buck from stealing your idea. In the case of duplicate inventions, the earliest patent filed wins out.
What to consider before filing one
Less than half of all patent applications end up being granted. Not every idea or invention is patentable. Issues regarding ownership need to be considered, as does who gets credit. If somebody else has perfected what was only a rough idea, they, not you are entitled to file for one. The same applies if you’ve improved upon an original idea. The lines in this case are a little more blurred, so more investigation is required to ensure qualification.
The issue of profitability also needs to be considered. Is there a demand for what you’re trying to patent? Under 5% of everything granted protection will ever make a profit. After the expense of developing a product further, filing multiple patents and advertising and producing it; will your invention make money? If not, it’s very likely that going down the patent route will be a fruitless way to your spend time. That is why it is advisable to consult with professionals, such as InventHelp company.
Taking care of the details
If you’ve decided your invention is patentable and you’d like to move forwards, great.
Now you need to decide which of these three categories your invention fits in to: utility, design, or plant. It’s also vital that it meets these three prerequisites too: novelty, non-obviousness, and utility.
Upon deciding, you’re very close to being able to file your year long protection order.
Before getting legal advice, with the intention of crossing the ‘t’s’ and dotting the ‘i’s’, perform a patent search, just to ensure that nobody has been beaten you to it. There are over 100,000 patents granted each year, so finding a unique invention isn’t easy. Hopefully what you have is however, and your patent will be successful.
You can check previously registered patents by browsing the USPTO patent search database. Entering your invention description will allow you to view a full list of text and images alerting you to previously registered inventions.
If your idea is profitable, if your invention is your own, and if nothing similar comes up on the search database, then congratulations, you’re good to proceed.
It’s now recommended you visit a patent law attorney, just to help the process run as smoothly as possible. You’ll need to create a detailed description and offer drawings to demonstrate how your invention works, so be prepared for that. You’ll also need to pay all appropriate fees. A good patent attorney or an agency, like Invent Help, will be able to help you with all of those things, making getting your grant effortless.
The day you find out that you’ve been awarded your patent will be a monumental day you’ll remember forever. While it may sound slightly complicated at times, it’s something you’ll always be glad that you did.