Protect Your Intellectual Property with Trademark and Patent Filing

Intellectual property lawyer

If you’re an entrepreneur, there’s a good chance that you’ve created something for your business. Everything from new and innovative products to great branding strategies is often the result of a successful business owner’s creativity. However, while developing these new branded products and services, many business owners run the risk of having someone else steal those ideas. If you are a creative business owner, you’ll want to make sure to protect your intellectual property through the trademark and patent filing process.

What is intellectual property? This term applies to anything that is created or invented to signal a new and original idea. Just as songwriters, authors, and artists copyright their creative works (a process that helps them earn revenue from their creations), companies can use intellectual property protections to prevent infringement on their brand names, products, and other innovations. These intellectual property rights are protected by trademarks and patents.

What are patents and trademarks? For the most part, patents protect tangible objects that have been invented or improved upon. There are three different types of patents. Utility patents are used to protect any type of machine, process, article of manufacture, or composition of matter that is considered new and useful. Design patents cover any ornamental features on an object. Plant patents protect any new or distinct asexually reproduced plant.

Trademarks cover words, phrases, symbols, or designs that distinguish and identify a product or other good’s source. Most if not all major brand names for products are trademarked, so this way there won’t be two companies selling a product called “Coca-Cola,” for instance. There are also service marks, which protect any word, phrase, symbol or design that identifies a service rather than a tangible product. When you hear the phrase “trademark,” however, it is often used interchangably to describe both trademarks and service marks.

How does the trademark and patent filing process work? Both of these types of intellectual property are protected through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Patents must be filed based on the type of invention they are protecting. Patents typically require a small fee for “maintenance,” or the continued protection of that product, every few years.

Trademarks don’t necessarily have to be filed with the USPTO, but it’s generally considered a good idea to do so. In the event of a trademark infringement, it will be easier to defend yourself in a legal battle if you’ve taken the steps to protect your brand, logos, and services.

When in doubt about trademark and patent filing for your business, it’s often best to speak with an intellectual property lawyer. Having an attorney review the process with you is also a good first step in protecting yourself in the event intellectual property theft.

Have more questions about patents, trademarks, and intellectual property protection? Leave a comment below.

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