Copyright protection refers to the legal safeguarding of original works of authorship, and is covered under Title 17 of the United States Code. Original works of authorship may include literary, artistic, musical, dramatic, and other specified intellectual works that are either published or unpublished.
Individuals and businesses can register a copyright in the Copyright Office in the Library of Congress. In recent years, a copyright notice has not been required for work to be protected by law, but the Copyright Act does provide additional protection for those who choose to register with the Copyright Office. If you are interested in copyright protection, contact an experienced attorney who will provide guidance on how to ensure your work is properly protected.
Patent law refers to the protection of new inventions, computer coding, and industrial processes. Improvements to the manufacturing process of existing products, or using a new application of an existing process or principle that leads to a new product or a new use may all be covered under patent law. Notably, patent law does not protect ideas.
The most common patents that patent lawyers assist their clients with obtaining from the United States Patent and Trademarks Office (USPTO) are a utility patent, a design patent, and a plant patent.
Another common issue patent lawyers address is patent infringement. In the instance that an individual or company makes, uses, or offers for sale that which is patented by someone else, without permission from the rightful owner, the patent owner may sue them for damages. Hiring an attorney for a civil lawsuit is advised and encouraged, as there may be a lot at stake for both sides.
A trademark is a symbol, phrase, or word that identifies a seller’s products and is used to distinguish them from other sellers and their products. For example, Coca-Cola’s trademark distinguishes the product from their competitor, Pepsi, as does Pepsi’s trademark from Coca-Cola. So long as the mark distinguishes the product or service from those of its competitors, it may be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Businesses that offer services, such as hotels, may register service marks with the USPTO. Some businesses may use both a trademark and a service mark. For example, a coffee shop that offers its coffee beans for sale may use a trademark for its beans, and a service mark for its restaurant services. Lawyers who specialize in trademarks, service marks, and trade dress, can assist clients with any questions or concerns involving intellectual property issues.
Trade dress refers to the whole appearance of a product, and includes the product’s packaging, shape, size, and labeling. Physical structures that represent a service or product are also included under trade dress. For instance, the golden arches of McDonald’s restaurant identifies the famous burger purveyor from its competitors, just as P.F. Chang’s giant horse distinguishes the chain from other restaurants.