Recently I learned that Intellectual Property is something that is created in the mind of an individual. I’ve learned that there are ways to protect these creations with trademarks, copyrights and patents. But as I looked at these three ways to protect an idea, I realized I didn’t have a clue as to what the difference between them was. So, I decided to investigate further.
Let’s start with the trademark. Actually, this was easier than I thought. A trademark is a recognizable sign, logo, expression or design that identifies a product or service. Like the swoosh logo of Nike. When you see it, you know its Nike. Or the arches of McDonalds. Those arches tell a child who can’t read, that a Happy Meal is just inside. And come to think of it, wouldn’t Happy Meal be a trademark? It identifies a product, right? Okay, I have trademark down.
Now we can move on to copyright. A copyright is a legal right. It gives the creator or owner of an original work the right to control its use or distribution. This applies to artwork, books, music and the like. And a copyright is normally for a limited time. This will allow the creator to receive compensation for their work. Copyrights can be shared by a group. They all have a right to the work. If several people collaborated on a piece of music, they would all hold the copyright to that song.
Now we come to patents. I’ve heard this term used in new drugs. Or we’ve all heard “patent pending”. A patent is exclusive rights to an invention for a period of time. An invention is the solution to a technical problem or a process or product. The patent does not give someone the right to use or sell the invention, but is excluding others from doing so. With drug companies, their competitors may have a comparable medicine, but they cannot duplicate the real drug until the patent expires. Most of us use these generic medicines because the cost is less.
I think I have a good understanding of these terms now. The main thing that stands out is there are each a protection of Intellectual Property. Without the trademark, copyright or patent any idea or creation could be claimed by someone else. They are each something you need to get the minute you start thinking of that book, that song, your logo or your new invention to make life a little easier.