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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authorship” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished.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 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to reproduce the copyrighted work, to prepare derivative works, to distribute copies or phonorecords 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. A copyright protects original works that fall under the categories of literature, dramatic, musical, artistic, and intellectual. These works may be published or unpublished, and the Copyright Act  gives the owner exclusive rights to reproduce his or her work in any medium. A copyright protects a form of expression, but not the subject matter of the work. For example, if someone wrote an article about a new car on the market, the text would be copyrighted, preventing someone else from using that particular material. A copyright does not prevent others from writing their own original article about this new car, however, or from using or making the car themselves.

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.

A trademark is used to protect a word, symbol, device, or name that is used for the purpose of trading goods. The trademark indicates the source of goods and distinguishes them from the goods of others. A trademark may also be used to prevent others from using a mark that might be confused with another; trademarks, however, do not prevent other people or businesses from producing the same product or services under a different mark.

What Is a Patent ?

Patents grant exclusive monopoly rights for a limited term for novel and inventive products and processes, in return for publication of details of the products and processes to encourage dissemination of information and promote further development. Patent protection may provide a monopoly for ideas and concepts when embodied in product form or reproducible process. The monopoly however is only granted after an administrative process to determine whether prescribed eligibility requirements have been met.

Patent for an invention grants a property right to the inventor that will prevent anyone else from making, using, or selling an invention. A patent lasts for a limited amount of time, usually 20 years from the date the application was filed, and is only effective in the country in which it was filed. The application for a patent must include a detailed description of how the invention works. Since a patent is considered “property,” it may be bought, sold, mortgaged, or licensed by the owner.