Trademark, patent, and copyright - these words are thrown around all the time and often used incorrectly. You have probably heard people tell you that you need one or all of these things for your business, but you may not be sure what they are or why you need them. At Verhagen Bennett LLP, we specialize in helping small businesses and startups protect their intellectual property and are here to break down exactly what a trademark, patent, and copyright really are.
A trademark is an identifier, such as a word, phrase, symbol, or design, that sets a business, product, or service apart from its competitors. Unlike patents and copyrights, trademarks never expire. As long as you continue to use a trademark, that is enough to deem it yours. Similarly, trademark registrations also never expire, as long as you continue to file the necessary documents and pay the necessary fees at proper times.
The distinction made between trademarks and trademark registrations was not a mistake. Trademarks do not need to be registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in order to be valid. However, there are several benefits to registering your trademark. By registering your trademark with the USPTO, you are making known to the public that you have legal rights to your trademark and that you have exclusive rights to use that trademark. We can help with the process of registering your trademark. The experienced trademark attorneys at Verhagen Bennett have helped small business and startup owners perform trademark searches, file trademark registrations, and maintain active trademark registrations.
A patent is an important tool for inventors. As an inventor, a patent gives you a limited monopoly over your ideas by granting you the right to exclude others from making, using, and selling your invention. There are two types of patents - utility patents and design patents. Utility patents protect the way something is used, whereas design patents protect the way something looks. Utility patents are valid for 20 years from the date they are filed, and design patents last for 15 years from the date of issuance. The process of filing for a patent can be long and tedious, so make sure you seek out the expertise of a patent attorney near you to ensure your documents are filed correctly.
A copyright is a form of protection given to creators of “original works of expression.” When people think of copyrights, they typically think of artists, musicians, writers, and other creatives. With a copyright, creators have the legal and exclusive right to make copies of, distribute, perform, and display these works. Once you have a copyright, it is valid for the duration of your life, plus 70 years after that. If the copyright belongs to an anonymous person, it is valid for the shorter of either 95 years after the date of publication or 120 years after the date of creation. Make sure your copyright is filed correctly by consulting with an experienced copyright attorney in your area.
If you are looking for assistance with filing a trademark, patent, or copyright in the Santa Monica or Greater Los Angeles area, call us today at 310-917-1064 or visit our website for your free consultation. Our business lawyers are dedicated to representing the intellectual property needs of small businesses and are here to assist you.