What is…?

What is a patent?

A patent is an official document that confers rights to the inventor of a novel, useful, and non-obvious invention.

A patent is also a contract between an inventor and the United States government, which provides an inventor with a limited monopoly for a period of years in consideration for the inventor disclosing a new invention to the public through a published patent.

The limited monopoly granted by a patent is the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, and offering for sale the invention covered by the patent and importing the patented invention into the United States.

Without a patent, anyone can make, use, and sell the invention without the inventor’s permission, and without paying the inventor.

To secure a patent for an invention, a patent application disclosing and claiming the invention must be filed with and processed through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

If you wish to obtain a patent in a country other than the United States, you must file a separate application in that country.

What is a trademark?

A trademark is a marking that distinguishes one seller’s goods or services from others in the marketplace. A trademark can be a word, a symbol, a phrase, a sound, a color, a package design, or other aspects of a product that tend to promote it.

Trademark law is designed to prevent sellers from misleading consumers as to the origin or quality of a product or service. Trademarks also serve as an incentive for businesses to provide quality products or services in order to maintain their reputation.

In the United States, a trademark can be acquired by using a mark in commerce. A business that uses (or plans to use) the mark in commerce can obtain enhanced trademark rights by filing a federal trademark registration application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

What is a copyright?

A copyright is a bundle of rights held by the author or developer of an original work of authorship. Works that are protected by copyright include literary works, audiovisual works, computer software, graphic works, musical arrangements, and sound recordings.

The only requirement for obtaining a copyright is to fix the work into a tangible form (for example, written down or recorded). In order to enforce the copyright against infringers, however, the work must be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.

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