Trademarks, Patents, and Copyrights
The legal term intellectual property covers all intangible creations: music, literature, pictures, inventions, and so on. The people who create these things, or purchase the rights to them, own them just as they may own physical property. These rights may be protected in various ways, depending on the type of material involved and how the owner wants to use it. The most common methods of intellectual property protection are copyrights, trademarks, and patents.
Protecting your intellectual property is a key part of running a successful business. If you do not control your company’s name, logo, or merchandise, you cannot control its future. For important information about preventing infringement on your intellectual property rights, call the Des Moines business lawyers of LaMarca Law Group, P.C. at (877) 327-2600.
Three Important Definitions
There is a good deal of confusion in the general public about the distinctions between different kinds of intellectual property protections. For your convenience, here is some basic information about copyrights, trademarks, and patents:
- Copyright: Copyright is the exclusive right to copy, display, record, publish, or sell an artistic creation. This right is automatically granted to the creator once his or her ideas have been set down in tangible form (written, drawn, etc). The exception is works that are created for pay, in which case copyright automatically belongs to the employer.
- Trademark: A trademark is a phrase, name, or symbol that represents the goods produced by a certain company. (Representation of a service is called a service mark.) A company can establish its rights to a trademark by registering with the federal government or simply by legitimately using it. Exclusive rights to use of a trademark last as long as its owner is using it.
- Patent: A patent grants its owner the exclusive rights to produce, sell, and/or use a particular invention. Patents are issued by the US Patents and Trademarks Office and are usually good for 20 years. New inventions, new uses for old inventions, and new species of plant can all be patented.
If you are concerned that one of your company’s trademarks, copyrights, or patents is being misused, our Des Moines intellectual property lawyers are ready to help.
As modern technology makes it easier and easier to copy and share works, intellectual property is becoming a very complex area of law. To make sure you know and can protect your rights, contact the Des Moines intellectual property attorneys of LaMarca Law Group, P.C. at (877) 327-2600.