The Different Types Of Intellectual Property

If you are interested in securing some type of intellectual property rights, then you might be confused about the different kinds of intellectual property. To help you get a better understanding of the subject, here is a comparison of two types of intellectual property: patents and trademarks.

What is a patent?

A patent is a form of intellectual property that covers inventions. With a patent, you can prevent anyone else from using, making, or selling your invention. In order to successfully file for a patent, your invention needs to satisfy several criteria. Your invention must have some valid use (it can't have some hypothetical use to fix a future problem that does not currently exist), it must be new (you can't patent something like the wheel that people have been using for millennia), and it must not be obvious (it can't be something trivial that any similar individual would think of). Finally, the invention must actually be something that can be patented, such as a specific process or device. Patents that are filed now will last 20 years.

What is a trademark?

A trademark is some sort of mark that distinguishes a brand, company, service, or product from its competitors. There is a lot of leeway in what can actually constitute a trademark, but words, names, and symbols are all quite common. That being said, you need to make sure that your intended trademark is sufficiently unique in the field of its intended usage. For instance, you could successfully create a company named Apple and file a trademark for the name, since Apple is a relatively unique word within the world of computers. It would not be easy for the average consumer to confuse the computer company Apple with a company like Microsoft or a fruit like a pear. However, you could not create a computer company named Computers and file a trademark for that name. Similarly, you can't file a trademark for an apple selling company named Apple.

In order to actually get a trademark, you can either file for it or secure it through usage. Using your trademark for a period of time is generally enough to secure your rights to it. These rights allow you to sue entities that use your trademark without your permission. However, if you do file for your trademark with the government, you might have a much easier time enforcing your trademark in court. A trademark lasts 10 years before it must be renewed.

For more information regarding patents and trademarks, speak with a patent attorney, like those at Lingbeck Law Office.