What is the Difference Between Trademarks, Copyright, Patents and Licenses?

Trademark, Copyright, Patent, and License Connecticut Business Lawyer

If you own a business, you may not know the difference between things like trademarks and copyrights. You may not even realize that it’s important to know the difference. However, if you’re engaged in any type of service or production, it’s crucial that you understand this difference.

What may make one company stand out amongst the pack is its ability to offer something unique. For example, years ago we didn’t have anything like Uber or Lyft. We called cabs or airport shuttles when we needed them. Then somebody had the bright idea of offering car rides for a fair price. And they created an app that makes using their service easy and convenient.

Can you imagine what would happen if Uber didn’t protect their app? Although they can’t patent the idea of ridesharing, they certainly were able to patent their app. If they hadn’t then every rideshare company that came along could’ve poached their app in no time.

The same is true for companies. Can you imagine if Coca-Cola had never trademarked their name and logo? There never would have been a Coke-Pepsi challenge because Pepsi could’ve just stolen their logo. And, the special receipt for the drink itself? It’s patented as well! This way, nobody could steal their recipe and sell an identical product for less money.

When it comes to protecting your intellectual property, you need to rely on an experienced Connecticut business lawyer. You don’t want to find out too late that your idea or product doesn’t have legal protection.

A Connecticut Business Lawyer Knows the Difference Between Copyright, Patent and Trademark

Understanding the difference between a copyright, patent and trademark can be confusing. A lot people end up interchanging the words because they’re not really sure what they are. That’s why it’s so important that you consult a Connecticut business lawyer before you make any final decisions. You may need to file for a trademark or patent sooner than you think.

First, you want to make sure you have the knowledge to protect your company. The last thing you want to do is have your research and development team spend five (5) years working on a special formula and then have someone steal it from you. This is even more true if your “research and development” team consists of just you and your family!

Here’s an easy way to remember the difference between the three:

  • A Patent protects an idea
  • A copyright protects something you’ve written or produced
  • A Trademark protects your logo

Obviously, we’ve simplified this just a bit. But, even if you just know the basics, you’re in better shape than most.

Patents:

A patent prohibits anyone else from using, selling or making your invention. Once the patent is granted, nobody else can use, make or sell another floor cleaner that does what yours does. Anyone can apply for a patent. However, it’s a good idea to have a Connecticut business lawyer assist you in doing this. You want to make sure you do it right the first time around.

Copyrights:

A copyright protects the author of a piece of work. For instance, let’s return to the Coca-Cola example above. Do you remember that old jingle, “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke?” If you don’t, Google it. It was one of the most brilliant advertising campaigns of all time. Coke paid somebody to write that song. Then they copyrighted the song so nobody else could use it.

Trademarks:

A lot of us can name a company based on their logo. Take the Mermaid on the Starbucks cup. Very few people would ever look at that image and not think of the coffee company. Nobody else can use this logo. Their trademark protects them from other companies trading off their good reputation. If anyone else tries to market themselves using a similar or identical logo, Starbucks can ask the court to forbid it.

Let an Experienced Connecticut Business Lawyer Protect Your Product or Service

For the most part, trademarks and copyrights last forever. For a trademark, as long as you renew it, it’ll last forever. With a copyright, most last for the life of the author plus another seventy (70) years. Patents are a little different. Patents are only granted for a limited number of years.

You can transfer or loan your intellectual property to other people. This is called a license. Basically, you can give someone else permission to use or expand on your trademark, copyright or patent. It’s up to what the terms of this license will be. Your Connecticut business lawyer can make sure your ideas and creations are safe from poaching.

Your Connecticut business lawyer will help spell out the terms of your license so both parties know what’s expected of them. Once a license is complete, it can be used to protect both the licensor and the licensee.

Call and schedule your consultation with a Connecticut business lawyer today. He can answer any questions you may have and help protect your business.

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