Q. What are the different types of intellectual property protection available?
A. A patent protects a product’s utilitarian/ functional or ornamental aspects, a trademark protects the brand or symbol that identifies a product’s source and copyright protects written and artistic expression.
Q. What rights do I obtain with a patent?
A. The right to prevent others from practicing your invention.
Q. When should a patent application be filed?
A. It is best to file before public disclosure or offering for sale and it must be filed within one year of disclosure, public use, or offering for sale in the U.S. Some foreign jurisdictions require the filing of a patent application prior to public disclosure or offering the product for sale.
Q. Are there different types of patents?
A. Yes, there are utility patents that protect functionality and design patents that protect the ornamental appearance of a product, and plant patents that protect a new variety of plant that is asexually reproduced or discovered.
Q. What is patent marking?
A. “Patent Pending” can be used upon filing a patent application. After a patent issues, all articles manufactured in accordance with the patent, and preferably any related promotional literature, should bear a patent marking such as “U.S. PATENT NO.”, “U.S. PAT. NO.” or the like followed by the patent number or an Internet address which sets forth information associating the patented article with the number of the patent. It is important under the United States patent laws that such a patent marking be used to serve as a warning to potential infringers and unless it is used, maximum damages may not be collected in an infringement lawsuit. A “PATENT PENDING” marking will not be sufficient once the patent has issued.
Q. I plan to offer my product for sale soon. Can I file something “quickly” to preserve my rights?
A. A provisional utility patent application provides “temporary” protection by establishing a filing date for the invention.
Q. How do I take action if I think my patent is being infringed?
A. Investigate, then consult with intellectual property counsel.
Q. Can I file for international patent protection?
A. Yes, you can file an international patent application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) that preserves your rights to later seek patent protection in a large number of member countries.
Q. How long do my rights last with a design patent?
A. 15 years from issuance.
Q. How long do my rights last with a utility patent?
A. If all maintenance fees are paid, 20 years from issuance.
Q. Why bother registering my trademark?
A. A trademark registration provides nationwide protection and puts others on notice of your rights. It can also make enforcement easier, particularly online.
Q. How do I give notice of trademark rights?
A. If a mark is registered, use ®. If a mark is not registered, use ™.
Q. Can I obtain international trademark protection?
A. International protection is available.
Q. What rights does copyright give to the author?
A. Copyright gives the author exclusive rights to their work.
Q. What does a copyright not cover?
A. Copyright does not protect ideas.
Q. How do I obtain a copyright registration?
A. Registrations are obtained by filing an application with the U.S. Copyright Office; a copyright registration is necessary to file a lawsuit for infringement.
Q. What is the term of copyright protection?
A. A copyright can last 120 years or more depending on the circumstances.