When someone creates a new form of intellectual property, it is important to protect this valuable innovation through legal channels. Depending on the type of intellectual property you have created, there are different legal protections available to you that safeguard different rights. Because the law is complex, we are providing you with a brief guide to patents, trademarks, and copyrights that will help you understand the best route to pursue when protecting your creation and managing your New York business.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) can grant an inventor the property rights to their invention by issuing a patent that gives them the ability to exclude others from “making, using, offering for safe or selling” their creation without their express permission for a period ranging from 14 to 20 years. Patents cover new, useful technical or industrial processes, chemical compositions such as pharmaceutical drugs, machines, manufactured articles, or a useful improvement in any of these categories. The USPTO most often issues design patents, plant patents, and utility patents. Utility patents protect the utility or functional aspects of an invention such as processes, compositions, and machines. Design patents protect an invention’s aesthetic appearance and can include its general appearance, shape, or design; for example, Microsoft received a design patent for the unique “X” on its Xbox. Plant patents are relatively rare and are granted for invented or discovered plants that reproduce asexually – hybrid plants are a common recipient of these patents.
The USPTO will also register trademarks for words, names, symbols, devices, or any combination of these that identify, convey, and/or differentiate the goods or business of a person or business to the public. This can include distinguishing a product from those made or sold by other people. A trademark can also indicate the source of any goods created by the inventor. Even though some trademarks are limited in scope and highly recognizable like the Starbucks mermaid, they can also protect larger items like specific designs that identify a business. If a trademark is registered by the USPTO, it puts the public on constructive notice that you are currently the owner of the registered mark. This means if someone uses it without your express permission, known as infringement, you may file suit in court for monetary damages.
Unlike patents and trademarks, copyrights are registered by the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress and provide protection to the owner of an “original work of authorship.” The work may be a book, poem, movie, song, website, painting, jewelry design, fabric, architectural structure, or even computer software. However, it’s critical to understand that a copyright does not protect the functional elements or underlying of the work – only the original “expression” that is contained within the item. A copyright gives the originator or their assignee the exclusive legal right to print, publish, sell, perform, film, or record their work. It also gives them the right to authorize others to do the same with their protected creation. If another person does this without the copyright owner’s express authorization, they owner may sue the offender for copyright infringement.
New York Business Lawyers
Looking for a New York business attorney? MOWK Law can help with all your business needs and questions to make sure that you hard work and ideas are protected. Get in touch with us today to learn more.