A copyright is a form of IP protection for original works that have been created and “fixed within a tangible medium of expression,” Copyrights can cover works like a novel, audio recording, film, painting, photograph, sculpture, piece of choreography, architectural plan, or software program. Obtaining a copyright for such a work allows an author, artist, or inventor to legally own their creations and prevent others from using them without requesting permission or giving the creator due credit.
Copyrighting a creative work grants you the exclusive rights to:
- Reproduce the copyrighted work
- Distribute copies of the copyrighted work through sale, rental, lease, lending, or other transfer of ownership
- Perform or display the copyrighted work in public
- Create derivative works based on the original copyrighted work
In most cases, a creator will transfer specific rights or combinations of rights to others in order to successfully market their creations. A copyright allows you to transfer all rights of ownership to a third party without limitation (assignment) or to transfer only certain rights or place a time limit on this transfer (license). It is also possible to utilize your copyright as a security for a financial obligation or make it transferrable under certain conditions, such a divorce or death. By sharing your rights with third parties, you can significantly expand the reach of your work and increase your profits.
WHAT IS A TRADEMARK?
A trademark is defined as a word, phrase, name, symbol, or logo that serves to identify a brand, product, or service and distinguish it from the competition. Unlike a copyright, a trademark is not designed to prevent reproduction of the work itself. Instead, a trademark serves to prevent customer confusion about the nature or source of a product they are buying that may result from multiple brands using the same identifying marks. When a customer views a product in the marketplace, this product should be significantly different from other products. This difference makes the consumer more able to determine the product’s intended use and origin and avoid purchasing the wrong product due to a misconception.
Trademark law gives the trademark owner the right to bring a lawsuit against anyone who uses their registered trademark for the goal of misleading customers. For example, consider a situation where a new company begins manufacturing vehicles and labeling them with the same name as a successful automobile company but charging substantially less to purchase them. The original company could sue the infringing company for all damages that result from this infringement, including lost sales, revenue, and profits.
In some cases, trademarks and copyrights work together to protect the same work. If a brand develops a new logo to promote their products, they can copyright the logo as a creative work to prevent unauthorized use or reproduction. In addition, the owner can obtain trademark rights to prevent customer confusion if the logo meets the requirements for trademark protection. Copyright protection is generally not available for phrases and titles, but it can apply to names, logos, and other identifiers.
WHAT IS A PATENT?
A patent refers to an IP right granted to an inventor for the purpose of excluding unauthorized third parties from creating, selling, or using a similar product over a predetermined time period. Naturally occurring substances, laws of nature, fundamental truths, abstract principles, calculation methods, and mathematical formulas cannot be patented. Additionally, a patent is not available for ideas—the inventor must develop a concrete technique for implementing their idea to obtain a patent.
There are three primary forms of patents:
- Utilitypatents – new processes, machines, and chemicals
- Design patents – unique appearance or design of a manufactured product
- Plant patents – invention and asexual reproduction of distinct, new plant varieties
Patent law encourages unique and valuable inventions, but it does place strict requirements regarding what kinds of inventions are available for patenting. To be eligible for a patent, an invention must be “novel” and “non-obvious.” An invention is considered novel if it is distinct from other similar inventions and has not previously been used in public, sold, or patented by someone else within one year of the date of filing the application. A non-obvious invention consists of an invention that would be viewed as an unexpected or surprising innovation by other people skilled in that field.
WHAT KIND OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY PROTECTION DO YOU NEED?
Because intellectual property may be protected through multiple methods, it can be difficult to determine which method suits your company with the highest level of security for your innovations. The United States Patent & Trademark office attorneys at Blake & Ayaz can work with you to discuss your business goals, help your ideas become reality, and advocate on your behalf throughout any compliance, licensing, or infringement issues that may arise. We have over 60 years of combined experience been assisting clients in Orange County and throughout California. Our expert team offers a full range of IP services for established brands, start-ups, and entrepreneurs, and we are proud to help California businesses obtain critical IP protection.
Contact Blake & Ayaz today to learn more about our services and how we can support your long-term business goals. With our help, there is no need to fear that the time, effort, and money you invested in building your business will go to waste as the competition plagiarizes your ideas. Our team is here to deliver first-rate legal advice and guide you through every step of the process. We can assist throughout, from filing your application to licensing and litigating against any outside party that uses your IP without authorization. Schedule your consultation today to begin protecting your most valuable property.