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How are patents, trademarks and copyrights different?

Businesses in the United States and internationally have the right to protect their intellectual property. This means that if a company invents an important technology or if a writer drafts a bestselling novel, the technology and the book can be protected from others who may wish to "hijack" it and make money off of it. In this way, intellectual property law protects the right of individuals and organizations to profit from their creative contributions to the world.

In the scope of intellectual property law, there are three ways of protecting inventions and property:

  • Patents: Patents are used to protect inventions, systems and technologies that can be used to serve a specific purpose in the world. Individuals and companies can apply for, buy and sell patents regarding any number of inventions, ideas and creations in this regard by submitting the appropriate applications and paperwork to the federal government.
  • Copyrights: Copyrights are primarily for the author's books, articles, art, music, images and other works. For example, having secured a copyright for something, a California artist will ensure that no one else can buy or sell the paintings or images of the painting that he or she paints.
  • Trademarks: Trademarks relate to the branding of products and the inability of others to essentially hijack another product owners brand to confuse his or her customer base. For example, imagine a beer company has a top-selling beer called "Dolphin Beer." If a competing brand decided to make a beer called Dolphin Brew and made the package very similar, the competing company might be in violation of trademark laws.

Did another company accuse you or your company of violating its trademark rights? Did someone violate your patent? If you have an intellectual property dispute on your hands, you may want to learn more about this essential area of the law.

Source: FindLaw, "How Patents Differ from Copyrights and Trademarks," accessed March 09, 2018

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