Quick Information on Copyright, Patents, Trade-marks and Industrial Designs :
Here is some quick information on various forms of intellectual property. The links on the left of this page link to pages which contain more detailed information about each of the topics below. Also, check out our FAQ page on Patents and Trademarks.
Copyright is quite literally, the right to make copies of a work. A copyrightable work is any literary or artistic work and includes books, web site articles, photographs, sound recordings, music, software, screen plays, sculptures, written forms and movies. Copyright is usually owned by the author of the work and copyright subsists for the life of the author plus fifty years. Go to our Copyright Information page for more detailed information about copyright.
Patents are a type of intellectual property that protects inventions. A patent is essentially a grant from the government that gives the patent owner the exclusive right to make, use or sell the patented invention for a period of twenty years from the date the patent was applied for. Patents apply to inventions such as a new device, a new method or a new material. Go to our Patent Information page for more detailed information about patents .
Trade-marks include trade-names, logos, and slogans which identify a company's goods and services and which distinguishes that company from its competitors. Note: there are three recognized spellings for the term trade-mark, namely "trademark", "trade-mark" and "trade mark". All three are correct; although the term trademark is preferred in the United States while the terms trade-mark and trade mark are more prevalent in Canada and the UK. We use all three interchangeably throughout this website.
A trademark can be a name or word(s), a graphical image (called a logo or design mark), a sound, a series of musical notes or even a particular three dimensional appearance. A registered trademark is a trademark that has been registered with the government. A registered trademark protects the owner of the mark from competitors who might use a confusingly similar mark. Go to our trademark information page for more detailed information about trademarks.
An industrial design (also called a design patent) is a type of intellectual property which protects the aesthetic appearance of an object. Usually, an industrial design is the decorative three dimensional design of a useful article such as a chair, a flower pot or a lamp. New and unique designs can be registered to give the owner of the registered design the exclusive right to copy the design. An industrial design only protects the decorative look of the design: it does not protect any utilitarian features of the design. Go to our design information page for more detailed information.
Litigation is the art (science) of bringing, prosecuting or defending against a legal action (law suit). Litigation is a complex area of law which is best handled by an experienced litigation lawyer. Intellectual Property Litigation is a specialized form of litigation which deals with the unique set of laws relating to intellectual property. Go to our litigation information page for more detailed information about intellectual property litigation.
Intellectual Property: Intellectual Property is a general term referring to a variety of non-tangible, but often very valuable, property. Intellectual property includes patents, trademarks, copyright, industrial designs, trade secrets, plant breeders' rights, and integrated circuit topographies. Intellectual property rights often overlap and a single product can be "covered" by several types of intellectual property protection. For example, a new product may be protected by a patent, its name could be protected by a trademark and the software that makes it work can be protected by copyright.
An invention is defined as a new and unobvious device, process, method or "composition of matter" (i.e. material) which does something useful. An invention may also be a new and unobvious improvement to an existing device, process, method or composition of matter. Common examples of inventions include: a new or improved machine, industrial process, chemical or plastic. To be new the invention must not have been publicly disclosed either by the inventor or by someone else. To be unobvious, the invention must contain at least a spark of creative effort. Go to our Patent information page to learn more about inventions and how they are protected.
A logo is a type of trademark (called a design mark) which incorporates a graphical or visual element. Oftentimes, the logo consists of a word which is written in a stylized way using a unique or graphically appealing font. A logo can be protected as a registered trademark (design mark) by filing and prosecuting an appropriate trademark application. Go to our trademark information page to learn more about the process of registering a logo.
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