Patent, Copyright, Trademark - Protect Your Intellectual Property

Ashish Vaidya
Published on: June 2012
Hello Friend,

I am extremely 'extremely' glad to apprise you of getting my second Patent application filed at USPTO - The United States Patent and Trademark Office. No, the repetition of 'extremely' is not a typo; read on.

In 2010, 520277 and in 2011, 535188 Patent applications were filed at USPTO. Going by the trend we can expect around 550,000 applications in 2012. Some individuals, mostly those submerged in research projects may be submitting multiple applications, whereas two or more individuals may be submitting one together. If on average one inventor per application is considered, then going by statistics only 0.0078% of the 7 billion people on earth may make it to the list of inventors this year.
patent copyright,trademark,intellectual property
By now you might have already guessed, the repetition of the word 'extremely' was not a typo but a euphoric expression. Not only has this endeavor of mine placed me in the list of inventors for 2012 but also in the list of inventors throughout history - for the second time. Reason to party? I think YES and I did.

This achievement of mine may or may not matter to you but knowing the fundamentals about the Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks should. Who knows you might have already invented something in your mind which qualifies to be patentable or something that can be 'copyrighted', or should be 'trademarked'?

The first thing you need to know is that all these are meant for protecting the Intellectual Property. Intellectual Property (IP) simply refers to the creations of the mind; a variety of intangible assets, such as musical, literary and artistic works, inventions and discoveries, phrases and symbols, names, images, designs used in commerce are all classified as Intellectual Property.

Although Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks have some similarities, they are invariably different and serve different purposes.

A Patent, as mentioned correctly and concisely in Wikipedia, refers to the set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention. This right prevents others from making, using, importing, selling or distributing the patented invention without permission. USPTO fixes the term of a new patent as 20 Years from the date of filing of the application or in some cases filing of an earlier related application, and subject to the payment of maintenance fees. A patentable idea must to be novel, usable and non-obvious.

A Copyright is provided to the authors of "original works of authorship" including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished. It basically pro-tects the form of expression rather than the subject matter. The copyright owner receives the exclusive rights to reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute copies, perform or display the copyrighted work publicly. A copyright awarded to an individual generally ends 70 Years after death. If awarded to an organization, it lasts for 70 years from introduction or publication of the work.
A Trademark is typically a name, word, phrase, logo, symbol, design, image, or a combination of these elements intended and used to distinguish the goods or services of a seller (or provider) from others and indicate the source of the goods or services. In other words, trademark is brand name and it represents the reputation of an organization and thus forms a substantial part of the organization's goodwill. Unlike Patent or Copyright, a trademark does not expire but has to be renewed every 10 years.

In the interest of space, we shall continue this dialogue in the next issue with more details on each of the mentioned terms, particularly the patents and their life cycle but if you find yourself too impatient to wait, you may consider going through the plethora of information scattered across the web.
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