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Patent Law Firm: us patent, patent search, patent attorney, patent an invention, patent idea, patent information, patent law, patent application, u.s patent, united state patent, patent lawyer, patent agent, us patent search, software patent, patent pending, patent research, design patent, patent protection, patent help, patents, invention marketing in San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Valley, San Jose, Santa Clara.

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Overview | Patent Information | Patent Glossary | A Decision Making Guide

intellectual property information

What Are Patents, Trademarks, Servicemarks, and Copyrights?
What Is a Patent?
Information regarding your best approach to Patent protection
What Is a Trademark or Servicemark?
What Is a Copyright?


A Comparison of Various Types of Intellectual Property


Trade Secret



Design Patent

Utility Patent

What is protected?


Original expression of an idea

Customer's notion of your good or service's source.

Visible appearance

Products, processes, compositions, functions

Typical things protected how to make Coca-cola, hidden high-tech methods, & etc. written material: computer programs, books, plays, poems; art: sculptures, paintings, photographs, etc. names, logos, internet domain names, designs, & etc. unique shape/styling of articles like product packaging, figurines, etc. tools, devices, machines, computer programs, games, processes, formulas, internet, electronic, chemical and business methods etc.

What are others prohibited from doing?

Unauthorized use or dissemination by someone who has been let in on the secret.

Copying the expression

Confusing the consumer.

Making something looking the same or similar..

Using the claimed invention.

How is the right established?

Use in trade


Use in trade



What is needed to get protection?

Know-how must be well defined, not publicly known, and protected.

Tangible use of the expression. 

Mark must distinctive, and not confusingly similar to another.

Visible appearance must be new and not obvious.

Invention must be new, useful and not obvious, and you must teach how to make and use it.

Geographic coverage country of origin or by other countries by treaty Worldwide Country filed in Country filed in Country filed in, or worldwide if PCT filing

What is the duration of protection?

Until disclosed to the public.

life of author plus 50 years

10 years, or as long as it is in use.

14 years (US) from grant

At most 20 years from filing.



What Are Patents, Trademarks, Servicemarks, and Copyrights?
The difference between patents, copyrights, and trademarks can be confusing sometimes.  Although there may be some similarities among these kinds of intellectual property (IP) protection, they are different and serve very different purposes.

What Is a Patent?

A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the Patent and Trademark Office. The term of a new patent is 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, in special cases, from the date an earlier related application was filed, subject to the payment of maintenance fees. US patent grants are effective only within the US, US territories, and US possessions.

The right conferred by the patent grant is, in the language of the statute and of the grant itself, "the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling" the invention in the United States or "importing" the invention into the United States. What is granted is not the right to make, use, offer for sale, sell or import, but the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the invention.

What Is a Trademark or Servicemark?

A trademark is a word, name, symbol or device which is used in trade with goods to indicate the source of the goods and to distinguish them from the goods of others. A servicemark is the same as a trademark except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product. The terms "trademark" and "mark" are commonly used to refer to both trademarks and servicemarks.

Trademark rights may be used to prevent others from using a confusingly similar mark, but not to prevent others from making the same goods or from selling the same goods or services under a clearly different mark. Trademarks which are used in interstate or foreign commerce may be registered with the Patent and Trademark Office. The registration procedure for trademarks and general information concerning trademarks is described in a separate pamphlet entitled "Basic Facts about Trademarks".

What Is a Copyright?

Copyright is a form of protection provided to the authors of "original works of authorship" including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished. The 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to reproduce the copyrighted work, to prepare derivative works, to distribute copies or phono records of the copyrighted work, to perform the copyrighted work publicly, or to display the copyrighted work publicly.

The copyright protects the form of expression rather than the subject matter of the writing. For example, a description of a machine could be copyrighted, but this would only prevent others from copying the description; it would not prevent others from writing a description of their own or from making and using the machine. Copyrights are registered by the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress.




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