Are you an inventor? Do you always try and come up with a better way to do something? Or maybe you are creative and enjoy writing or photography. Whatever your interest is, if you are creating something, tangible or intangible, you will want to protect it from others cashing in on your work. The problem with this is do you know how to protect it? We have all heard the terms trademark, patent and copyright. Which one of these would pertain to you?
If you are inventing a way for your car tire to stay inflated after running over a nail, you are improving how something works. New technology for use in a cell phone will improve how we use our phones. These are examples of inventions that have a purpose. These would need a patent. Patents are given for new inventions and improvements on existing products.
How about something that stands for a product? Apple has the logo of an apple with a bit out of it. If you just saw the logo, you would know it was an Apple product. How about Mrs. Smith’s Pies? If you heard that name you would definitely know you were talking about a pie. These types of things require a trademark. A trademark is anything like a word, name, logo or design that describes or stands for a product.
Last, but not least, is the copyright. Instances where you would require a copyright to protect your work would be for something artistic like a song, a book or a movie. TV shows are copyrighted. You will see the copyright on the screen following the credits. It is also a good idea to copyright paintings, photographs and sculptures.
Do you think there would ever be a case where you might combine any of the three? A great example of someone needing all three protections would be an inventor who created that tire, which would stay inflated for a period of time after being damaged. A patent would be needed for the technology for the tire. A trademark would be necessary for the brand name of the tire. And a copy of any manual that would accompany the tire would require a copyright.
Once you break down the definitions of these three different protections for inventors they make more sense. Consult your attorney to get the ball rolling.