An Ode to Stan Lee

An Ode to Stan Lee

With Grief we lost a Poet

of Injustice, Villains and Bullies

A Captain for the Outcasts

Exposing Evils, Thugs and Tyrants

Heroes created from Gamma, Cosmic, and Vita Rays

Humanity was protected

You dreamed of the Great Novel

Which you Created in your Head

Among the Heavens with the Creators

Of X-Men, Hulk, and Thor

With Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Black Panther

You made the Hero likeable

Instead of Bridges, Bakeries, and Buildings,

You were the Architect of our Imagination

Bringing Fantasy to Reality

Surfing Space you brought Respect

Teaching With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

We saw a world where Righteousness confronted Racism

Weakness was a Virtue, a Moral Code by everyone

My senses are exposed without a future for the Hero

A Paper in your Pocket; A Pencil in your Hand,

You climbed the Stairway alongside us

Bringing Happiness, you Lit the Way

 

 

 

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Stan Lee’s Copyrights and Work for Hire

Copyrights and Work for Hire Doctrine

Stan Lee, the co-creator and ambassador of the Marvel Universe, died this week. From a copyright perspective, Lee’s legacy is a complicated mess. Marvel, one of the original comic book publishers introduced over 8,000 characters including those created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon and Steve Ditko. This includes, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Hulk, Blade, Thor, X-Men, Silver Surfer and Fantastic Four.

IP and Comics

Copyrights and Work for Hire

Jack Kirby and Stan Lee’s characters have been famous but the copyright for most of their characters and comics was owned by their employer as a work for hire.
Photo Credit Raj Eiamworakul & Unsplash

Intellectual Property is typically associated with comic books in two ways, usually involving Trademarks and Copyrights. Copyright typically protects the story, characters, textual and graphical elements of the work. It gives artists the power over the way their artwork is reproduced, display or adapted. Trademarks control the branding elements of comic works and allows Marvel and DC comics to build customer loyalty to the characters through licensing and merchandising of characters. For example, both DC and Marvel have a co-branded right to use the mark SUPER HEROES for use on toys and comic books.

As artists, the creators of the Marvel Characters, including Jack Kirby and Stan Lee have endeared generations of readers and viewers. Their legacy in terms of popular culture is epic. In terms of dollars, the financial success of their characters including Spider Man and Captain America is vast, where Disney has earned almost 20 billion dollars off the Marvel Universe Franchise. However, as artists they have received little financial benefit from their character’s success off of their Copyrights and Work for Hire exception has limited their claim to any share in that success.

Copyrights are originally owned by the artist that means the copyright
is the property of the author who created the work of art. Under Copyright law, only the author or those who may have obtained those rights from the author can rightfully claim a copyright to a work.

Based on copyright law, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon and Steve Ditko should be billionaires, right? Unfortunately, no. If a work is made for hire, the employer or other person for whom the work was prepared is the initial owner of the copyright unless both parties involved have signed a written agreement to the contrary.

There is an exception to ownership of Copyrights and work for hire is the exception. Under the Work for hire doctrine, if a work is made for hire, an employer is considered the author even if the artist actually created the work. The employer can be a firm, an organization, or an individual who retains the artist to create the work.

Copyright Law transfers the artists rights automatically if: 1) The work of art is prepared by an employee as part of their employment; or 2) The parties have agreed in writing that the work is a work for hire and the work is specially ordered or commissioned for use:

  1. as a contribution to a collective work,
  2. as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work,
  3. as a translation,
  4. as a supplementary work,
  5. as a compilation,
  6. as an instructional text,
  7. as a test,
  8. as answer material for a test, or
  9. as an atlas.

Because most comic book artist were employees, the rights to their comics and characters are owned by their employer which over time became Marvel Comics and DC Comics. Because they were paid as an employee to create characters Copyright law transferred their copyrights to their employer. Therefore, most of the artists lost any right to receive a royalty or payment for use of their characters in the Marvel Movies. Their rights were transferred automatically. You can read more about Copyrights here or if you have any questions about copyrights and works for hire please contact us.

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101 Series – How to Get a Patent in 5 Easy Steps

How to Get a Patent

In the United States, a patent is issued by the United States Patent Office.  To get a patent, they will need to register your patent and to register your patent, you will need to file an application.  However, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, we need to take a few steps back.

To get a patent registration, an application must be submitted to the US patent office which describes the invention.  In addition, the invention m

Getting A Patent Application in 5 Easy Steps

5 Steps to Getting a Patent include: Determining if the invention is patentable, Drafting and Filing a Patent Application and working with the US Patent Office to get the patent allowed.
Photo Credit Jeff Sheldon

ust be patentable.

HOW TO GET A PATENT – FIRST STEP

So the first step for How to Get a Patent is to Determine if the Invention is Patentable.
To be patentable, the invention must be new, non-obvious, useful and of proper subject matter.

To be new means that the invention cannot be known, used, patented or described before the filing date of the patent application.  In addition, the invention cannot be published, sold or public for more than one year prior to the application filing date.  In addition to being the first filed application covering the invention (new or novel), the invention must be non-obvious.  This means that the invention must be significantly different from other similar inventions which are already known.  A patent may be refused if the differences between what is already known and what is invented would be considered obvious. For example, the substitution of one color for another, or changes in size, are ordinarily obvious improvements and not patentable.

In addition to being novel and non-obvious, the invention must be useful and patentable subject matter.  Useful means that the invention has a useful purpose.  Most inventions are useful.  Patentable subject matter is defined by the patent law but generally most inventions are fine, like mechanical, chemical and electronic inventions.  Software, business methods and biotech inventions have a little more difficulty but in some cases are still be patentable.  An invention that is not a machine, an article of manufacture, a composition or a process (or an improvement on one of these) is generally unpatented.  Abstract ideas and natural phenomona are generally not covered.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) strongly recommends that all prospective applicants retain the services of a registered patent attorney or patent agent to prepare and prosecute their applications. The preparation of an application for patent and the conducting of the proceedings in the United States Patent and Trademark Office to obtain the patent is an undertaking requiring the knowledge of patent law and rules and USPTO practice and procedures, as well as knowledge of the scientific or technical matters involved in the particular invention.

HOW TO GET A PATENT – SECOND STEP

A Patent Search can be helpful

Searching for similar inventions can be helpful prior to filing a patent application but it is not required.
Photo Credit Drew Hays.

The second step is to conduct some form of patent search.  Generally, a patent search can help you determine if your invention is new and if it is significantly new to be patentable.  See Patent Search.  A search of all prior patents and previously published patent applications can be helpful to determine if the patent is patentable.  In addition, a patent search may help determine the proper scope for the patent application, prior to filing.  While a patent search is not required, it is good practice to do so.

Conducting a thorough patent search may not be easy for a new inventor.  Therefore, a registered patent attorney is often helpful in preforming a patentability search.  However, after an application is filed, the USPTO will conduct its own search as part of the official examination process and in some cases, some inventors believe this is good enough.

HOW TO GET A PATENT – THIRD STEP

Once you conducted a patent search and feel confident that the invention is new and non-obvious, the next step is to begin preparing a patent application for filing.  For a US patent, the patent application must be filed with the US Patent Office.  Typically, the application process begins with preparing formal patent drawings.  Once the drawings are complete and approved, the application drafting process typically begins.

The patent application is a formal legal document which is typically prepared by a patent attorney.  A patent application includes:

US Patent Office Patent Attorney

A Patent Attorney, licensed by the US Patent Office, has training and experience in writing patent applications.
Photo Credit Andrew Welch

  1. A written description of the invention which teaches others how to make and use the invention;
  2. The specification shall be written in such full, clear, concise, and exact terms as to enable any person skilled in the art to which it pertains to make and use the same;
  3. It shall also set forth the best mode of carrying out the invention; and
  4. It shall conclude with one or more claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter which the applicant regards as their invention.
  5. Drawings should be included, where necessary, for an understanding of the subject matter sought to be patented.

A patent attorney is licensed to prepare patents by the United States Patent Office.  To get a license, they have to undergo an examination and testing process which only a small percentage of attorneys are qualified to take. Because they are licensed by the US Patent Office, most patent attorneys understand how to write a patent application and what needs to be disclosed.  In addition to knowing how to write a patent application, a good patent attorney will also develop a strategy to drafting a strong patent.  While the US Patent Office decides on whether to issue a patent, the patent attorney provides a lot of assistance in making this happen.

Generally, there are two types of utility patent applications:

Provisional Patent Application. A non-provisional patent application is sometimes (confusingly) referred to as a “Patent Pending” application.  In reality any patent is pending once an application has been filed.  A provisional application is not examined by the US Patent Office but merely acts as a place holder for a later filed non-provisional application.  A provisional application automatically expires 12 months after filing.  The only way to keep it alive is to file a non-provisional application claiming priority to the provisional application.  Because the provisional application is never reviewed it can be less formal and less complete.  The claimed invention in the later filed non-provisional application is only entitled to the priority benefit of the provisional application filing date if the later claimed invention is adequately described in the provisional application.  Provisional applications may not be filed for design inventions.  The filing date of a provisional application is the date on which a written description of the invention, any drawings and filing fee are received by the US Patent Office.

Non-Provisional Patent Application. A non-provisional application is a complete Utility Patent and includes a written document which adequately describes the invention, provides a set of claims (which define the scope of the patent), drawings (if required) and an abstract (a type of summary of the invention).  In addition, an oath and typically a power of attorney is filed along with the necessary filing fees.

HOW TO GET A PATENT – FOURTH STEP

After you file the patent application, the next step is to respond to the Patent Office questions and objections to the application, if any.  The rejections from the Patent Office are typically referred to as an Office Action.  Most of the time they are different for every patent application.  Some are easy to respond to and some are difficult.

Assuming everything was filed correctly, it may take 3-5 years before the US Patent Office gets around to reviewing the application.  Once they review the application, the may reject the application, they may accept the application or they may ask for additional clarification about something in the application.  Typically their response is in the form of an Office Action or an Advisory Action.  Either way, to keep your application alive you will need to respond.

Patent Prosecution with the US Patent Office

Patent Prosecution is the negotiation phase of the patent process between the inventor and the US Patent Office.  If successful, a patent may be granted.
Photo Credit Drew Hays

It’s very rare for the US Patent Office to allow a patent at first.  Typically, the patent office will issue a non-final rejection which is a rejection of the patent but will allow the inventor to make changes to the application.  This step in the process is typically referred to as the Prosecution Phase.  During the Prosecution Phase, typically the patent examiner, on behalf of the US Patent Office, negotiates over the scope of the patent with the inventor’s patent attorney.  The Prosecution Phase may take months or years to resolve.  Sometimes the inventor gets tired of the negotiations and simply gives up.  However, if the inventor want to continue, there are many different strategic choices a patent attorney can make to help persuade the patent examiner to allow the application.  Some of these choices include filing amendments, after-final amendments, conducting examiner interviews, filing continuation applications, continuation-in-part applications, new applications or even filing an appeal.

HOW TO GET A PATENT – FIFTH STEP

If an agreement is reached with the patent examiner, then the Patent Office will issue a Notice of Allowance.  This means the patent office has allowed the patent.  In response, the inventor filed paperwork related to the Allowance and pays an additional governmental fee for the allowance.  Additional time may also be added to the term of the patent.  While a notice of allowance means that the patent is in condition for allowance, without the fee and the paperwork being filed, the patent will not issue.  After receipt of the necessary fee and proper paperwork, the patent will typically issue within a few months.

After the patent has issued, to keep the patent alive the inventor must pay maintenance fees.  In addition, some inventors find it beneficial to filing additional patent applications prior to filing the issue fee paperwork.  This is helpful if priority to the original application filing date is available and desired.  A flow chart of the entire process (in 13 steps) created by the US Patent Office is attached here.

Contact us to schedule a meeting with one of our patent attorneys or continue reading through our website to learn more about patents and the patent process.

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101 Series – Copyright for Writers

Copyright for Writers

As a writer, you might spend hundreds, if not thousands of hours developing, researching and creating your plot and premise, theme, characters, moral development, the struggles and resolution of your character along with an ending which pulls it all together.  You spend months, if not years, writing it and re-writing your story.  But how much time have you spent figuring out how to own what you create or how to make money off what you created?

Copyright for Writers

Writers Make our Lives Richer by Creating Stories. Photo Credit Susan Yin

Writers contribute to the growth of society by providing unique and original stories.  These stories can last forever and make society richer and our lives more enjoyable.  As you probably know, our founding fathers valued author’s contributions so much, they actually provided a right to you, an author, within the U.S. Constitution.  Our country depends on the innovation of you as a writer so we created Copyright for Writers.  But what does that even mean, what rights does a writer have?  Writers have Copyrights.

What are Copyrights

A copyright is a bunch of rights given to any author who creates an original work in a tangible format.  A book, a story, a novel, a short story, poetry, plays, screenplays, essays, various reports and news articles are all works in the copyright sense.  By creating an original book you automatically have Copyrights.  However, those rights are not perfected, in the United States, until you register them with the Copyright Office.

Copyright for Writers can include:

  • Right to Reproduce Work;
  • Right to Distribute Copies of the Work;
  • Right to control first sale;
  • Right to communicate work to the public;
  • Right to rent or lend copies;
  • Right to make translations or adaptations of work;
  • Right to make work available over the internet;
  • Right to License or grant Sublicenses to any right single or bundle of rights;
  • Right to stop others from violating any right; and
  • Moral rights.

Who owns Copyrights?

Initially, the author owns the copyright in their work.  However, to make money, many authors license or assign one or more of their rights to a publisher who will print and commercialize their work.  This is typically in the form of a written agreement and typically provides for some sort of transfer of rights by the writer in exchange for some form of payment, like a royalty.

What does Copyright protect?

Copyright for Writers typically protects the creative expressions contained in the work, like the text, any illustrations or photographs.  It can also protect the individual components and arrangement of the work, including the  typeface, design and layout.  In addition to the work itself, Copyright for Writers protects many of the adaptations, generally referred to as the derivative works or subsidiary rights.  These may be relevant with any translations of the work, any musical arrangements based on the work, a television series or a motion picture.

What does Copyright not protect?

Because Copyright for Writers protects the tangible expression of an idea, not the idea itself, copyright protection does not extend to any data, scientific or historical facts.  It also does not typically extend to any common themes, scenes, plots or characters, or any short phrases or simple shapes.  While not relevant for most writers, copyright protection also does not extend to any functional aspects of the work.

Learn More about this Topic

If you would like to learn more about Copyright for Writers, you can contact one of our Copyright Attorney’s or come to the Writers Conference, where Intellectual Property Center is presenting at the Conference, hosted by the Johnson County Library, this weekend.  There is still time to sign up if you are interested.  Our presentation is titled Copyright 101 for Writers and you can register for the event at the Johnson County Library.

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Filing a Trademark Case to Prevent Confusion

Filing a Trademark Case

When a trademark owner believes their mark is being used by someone else to cause confusion, they may file a trademark case.  Infringement is the legal term used to describe the fact that a trademark has been used without permission of the trademark owner in a way to confuse customers.  A trademark lawsuit may be filed in either state or federal court depending on the situation.  In most cases, where a trademark owner has a federally registered mark, they file the trademark case in federal court.

Likelihood of Confusion

A Trademark Case can be used to stop infringement and prevent confusion

Infringement lawsuits are used to protect Trademarks
Photo by Sebastian Pichler on Unsplash

Likelihood of confusion is the central focus in a trademark case. Whether it is likely that a customer of the products or services is likely to be or is confused.  Is the use of the mark by the other party the cause of this confusion.

To prove likelihood of confusion, the party who has been harmed must show that a their customers are likely to be confused or has been confused.  In addition to the likelihood of confusion test, other grounds for bringing a lawsuit include reverse confusion, counterfeit goods, contributory infringement and dilution.

While there are many factors which should be considered prior to deciding to file a trademark lawsuit, the central question is can you prove confusion from the perspective of the average customer of your products or services.

If a infringement lawsuit is filed, the trademark owner may ask the court to provide relief in a number of different ways, this includes asking the court or the judge to order:

  • A preliminary or permanent injunction to prevent further harm;
  • Impounding and destruction of the infringing goods; and/or
  • Monetary damages.

There are exceptions and defenses against a claim of infringement, including a fair use exception, parody, abandonment, that the mark is generic, fraud, antitrust violations, estoppel and failure to file the claim timely.

If you believe someone has violated your rights or if someone has challenged your trademark or service mark, you should contact one of our litigation attorneys to discuss option about filing a trademark case.

 

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How to Create Strong Marks

Strong Marks

To be registerable, a trademark must be capable of acting as a source identifier. Strong marks are distinctive, that is they are capable of readily identifying the source of a good or a service.  Weak marks are not capable or do not easily identify a source of a good or service.  Common terms like Grocery Store or Shoe Store are not very distinctive. They are used by many people to describe where they are shopping. By name alone, one does not know which Shoe Store or which Grocery Store they are going.  If a mark is not distinctive enough to act as a source identifier, the United States Trademark Office may refuse to register the mark on the principal registry until the mark has sufficient recognition that it is capable of acting as a source identifier to consumers.

Within the trademark world, trademark distinctiveness varies over a range or spectrum. At one end of the spectrum are Weak Trademarks, marks which are unprotectable and at the other end are Strong Trademarks.  Strong Marks which are very protectable. The more distinctive a trademark is, the easier it is to register and protect. Also, the higher up in the distinctiveness spectrum, the more protection that it receives under U.S. law. In order of weakest to strongest, marks are categorized as:

Generic Marks

Strong Marks are not Generic Marks

Generic Marks are unprotectable Photo Credit: Alexander Vega via Flickr cc.

Generic trademarks are not protectable. They are typically terms which are used to describe a product or service. For example, a brand of beer called “BEER” is generic. Generic trademarks are words which are used to describe the product or service and are often synonyms for the goods or services. For example, think about the terms Kleenex, Thermos, Xerox they each (at one time) were generic terms for what they were, tissues, insulated liquid containers and copies. Generic marks are not protectable because no one can own the exclusive right to describe a good or service.

Descriptive Marks

Descriptive marks (or more properly, “merely descriptive marks”) are Weak Marks which describe the services or goods on which the mark is used. Descriptive Marks are difficult to register on the Principal Registry. One example of a descriptive mark is, Tire Store for a store which sells tires.

Some descriptive marks, while being weak, may be protectable.  However, if the Trademark Office determines that a descriptive mark is merely descriptive registration may be refused.  A merely descriptive mark is a very weak mark which does not identify the source of the goods or services. If a mark does not act as a source identifier, it cannot function as a trademark.  Thus a merely descriptive mark can’t be protected as a trademark. Misdescriptive marks are equally weak.

However, if it appears that a descriptive marks can function as a source identifier, the trademark office may allow for the weak mark to be registered on the Supplemental Register instead of the Principal Register.

Over time, with extensive use and by building consumer recognition, descriptive marks can become distinctive by acquiring secondary meaning. Secondary meaning generally means that although the mark may be a description of a good or service, consumers recognize it as a brand which indicates the source of the product.  By acquiring secondary meaning, the mark is no longer merely a description of the goods or services.

Secondary meaning can be shown through long term use, or extensive marketing activities including substantial advertising and publicity activities. In some cases, proof that the mark has acquired secondary meaning can be shown through the use of consumer surveys, that show that consumers recognize the mark as a brand as opposed to a description. If a mark has sufficient consumer recognition, the registrant can move the registration from the Supplemental Register to the Principal Register.

Suggestive Marks

Suggestive marks are generally Strong Marks which are distinctive and protectable. Suggestive marks suggest a quality or characteristic of a good or service.  For example, PAYLESS for a grocery store. The mark is suggestive because it suggests that you might pay less for items at a PAYLESS grocery store than you might at another store. Suggestive marks require some imagination, thought, or perception to reach a conclusion as to the nature of the goods. Suggestive marks are more distinctive than descriptive marks where a descriptive mark goes straight to the conclusion, CHEAP GROCERY STORE, and doesn’t require any thought or imagination.

Arbitrary or Fanciful Marks

Arbitrary and Distinctive Marks are Strong Marks

Arbitrary and Distinctive Marks are strong marks in comparison to Descriptive ones. Photo Credit: Roberta Sorge on Unsplash

Arbitrary and Fanciful marks are very strong protectable marks and are considered very distinctive. They are at the opposite end of the spectrum from generic marks and are considered the most easily protectable of marks.

Fanciful marks are strong marks which are made up words and have been created for the sole purpose of identifying a brand. They typically have no meaning in dictionary and solely function as a trademark. Fanciful marks are considered to be the strongest type of mark. An example of a Fanciful Mark is EXXON or XEROX.

An arbitrary mark is a strong mark.  Even though the word or phrase associated with an arbitrary mark is already known, as applied to the goods or services, it has no meaning or relation.  Arbitrary marks are considered to be a very strong distinctive mark, just under Fanciful Marks. Examples of arbitrary marks include APPLE for music and computers.

Additional information about trademarks can be found on the trademark section of our website.  If you have any questions about whether your mark is strong or protectable, please contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys.

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101 Series – Registering a Trademark

What is the Benefit of Registering a Trademark?

Why register a trademark?  By simply using a mark in commerce you get what are called common law rights.  That means that you don’t have to register a trademark to obtain some legal rights.  However, these rights are limited and if you plan on using the brand to create value for your company or to stop others it is better to have a registration, especially a federal registration.  While you may not need to hire an accountant to look after your books or file your taxes, if you do hire one, you may get a lot of benefits from doing so.  The same is for registering a trademark, you may not need to register a trademark, but doing so will typically provide more benefit to you or your company than not doing so.

Hiring a trademark attorney to register your trademark may provide enhanced trademark rights.  For example:

Benefits of Registering a Trademark include use of a federal registration symbol

Official Seal of a registered Trademark

• One benefit of federally registering your trademark is that later applications will be rejected;
• Another benefit of registering a trademark is that you can ask a Judge for an injunction against infringers of your mark;
• You also get the right to use the federal trademark registration symbol: ®; and
• You will get the right to file a trademark infringement lawsuit to prevent use by others and request that the infringer pay money. In some cases the court will award treble (3x) damages and attorney’s fees.

 

Federally Registering a Trademark on the Principal Register for more than 5 years may also provides additional benefits, including a presumption that your trademark is valid that you are the owner of the mark, and that you have the exclusive right to use the registered mark. These can be very helpful if you ever have to stop someone from infringing your trademark by filing a lawsuit to stop them. The registration on the principal register may also provide proof to eliminate any defenses raised by an infringer that their use was justified or in good faith. Federal Registration of your trademark also provides priority of use throughout the United States.

Additional information about trademarks can be found on the trademark section of our website.  If you have any questions about protecting  your trademark rights, please contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys.

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101 Series – Service Mark

What is a Service Mark?

A service mark (or servicemark) is just like a trademark but it is used in connection with services.  A trademark is typically used in connection with goods.  A mark is the general term for both a service and a trademark.  Generally, service marks relates to companies who provide services instead of manufacturing goods.  Just like trademarks, service marks are used as a source identifier with the company who provides services rather than goods.

Service Mark

Most Companies in America provide Services rather than Goods. Photo Credit: Petr Kratochvil

Most companies in America provides services rather than manufacture goods.  Since the 1990’s, most job growth has been in the services sector and it has continued to grow for the past two decades.  In fact, many of the most familiar brand names in America are for companies who provide services.  These include Microsoft, H&R Block, Google and American Express.

Many companies use the TM symbol as a designation of a company’s brand in connection with products or goods while the SM symbol is typically used in connection with a Company’s services.  The ® symbol is used with both registered trademarks and service marks.  Although “trademarks” are legally different from “service marks” many people informally refer to a service marks as a trademark.

Additional information about trademarks can be found on the trademark section of our website.  If you have any questions about protecting or enforcing your service mark rights, please contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys.

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101 Series – How Trademarks are Different

How Trademarks are different from Patents and Copyrights?

Trademarks are different from a patent or a copyright.  A trademark is a brand used on products and services. A patent typically protects inventions, like new machines, processes or chemical compositions.   A copyright typically protects an original artwork, like a painting, song or book.  Although trademarks, patents, and copyrights provide different forms of protection for different types of intellectual property they can be used together.

Trademarks are Different from Patents and Copyrights

Patents, Copyright and Trademarks all work together to protect a company’s intellectual property. Photo Credit: Bru-nO on Pixabay

To help illustrate how trademarks are different, think about a new invention.  Suppose you invented a new type of watch, you might apply for a patent to protect the way the new watch operates.  It is an invention. You could also apply for a trademark to protect a brand name or logo used for in advertising the watch to the public. You might also register photographs of the watch with the Copyright Office. These are three ways to protect different forms of intellectual property associated with the new watch: brands, inventions, and artistic works. They are all important to the company who invented and sells the watch and all three work in different ways to protect the watch.  They all contribute to the company’s intellectual property portfolio and help illustrate that trademarks are different form the other forms of intellectual property.

Registering Trademarks is different from registering Domain Names or Business Names.  Trademarks are federally registered through the Trademark Office; domain names are registered through a domain name registrar. They are not the same thing. One identifies the source of goods and services; the other is the address for a website.  To obtain federal trademark rights, you must register a trademark with the Trademark Office.

A Trademarks is also different from a domain name or a business name.  A domain name is like an electronic address the company uses to interact with internet users.  A company name is registered with a state where the company exists and allows the business to operate.  A business name registration with a state does not grant you trademark rights; it merely means that a particular state allows you to conduct business within that state under that name.  A Trademark is different from a business name.  A trademark has to do with what consumer see when the purchase a product or service.  It has nothing to do with what entity the State interacts with for taxes or licensing purposes.  Trademarks have nothing to do with legal operations of the company.  Likewise, a domain name identifies an internet location where you can interact with the company it is different than a trademark.

In summary, Trademarks are Different from other forms of intellectual property.  Trademarks protect brands, Patents protect inventions and Copyrights protect original works of art.  Domain names are web addresses, and Business names are entity names under which your state allows you to do business.  They are related, and sometimes overlap, but are all different.

Additional information about trademarks can be found on the trademark section of our website.  If you have any questions about protecting various types of intellectual property including your trademark, please contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys.

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Protecting a Trademark

Protecting a Trademark is Good for Business

Protecting a Trademark is good business

Many Companies spend significant resources to protect and build a brand. Photo Credit: Maximilian Bruck on unsplash

Trademarks are often a company’s most valuable asset.  Many companies invest in building their identity which is used by consumers in differentiate various products they buy.  Consumers use trademarks to distinguish products of one company from other companies. Companies use the trademarks to differentiate their products or services from their competitors.  This is often referred to as its brand identity or good will. Legally, this is referred to as a trademark or service mark.

Protecting a trademark is protecting a company asset.  Many businesses invest significant time and money to develop a strong brand which is readily identified with the type of goods or services a business provides; the law protects that investment as a Trademark or Service Mark. A Trademark is another name for brand name and is used to identify the source of a good.

Trademarks are used when a consumer goes shopping and looks for a particular product.  The consumer will often choose a brand they are familiar with because they like the brand and trust the products from that brand. That’s what brand protection does, it helps a consumer recognize a brand they have seen and purchased before and make a purchasing decision based on their familiarity or understanding of the brand. Protecting a trademark from use by others, allows the consumer to identify the source of the product and distinguishes them from those of another manufacturer.

To obtain federal trademark rights, you must register a trademark with the Trademark Office. 

Visit our trademarks page to read more or contact us to schedule an appointment with an attorney.

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