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What Is the Difference Between Copyright and Patent?

When an individual or business creates something new, it Is important to protect that unique design, product, logo, name, art or work of authorship. Most individuals and businesses are aware that legal protections exist for new inventions and creations. But not everyone is sure exactly what kinds of protections they need in order to ensure that other individuals and businesses do not infringe upon the fruits of their labor.  Though both are popular and well known, what is the difference between copyright and patent?

Thankfully, experienced intellectual property attorneys are generally happy to help both individuals and businesses navigate the process of protecting their inventions and creations. If you have produced a new and unique product, design, piece of art, etc. please consider asking a lawyer with specialized intellectual property knowledge to aid you in submitting the legal paperwork required in order to obtain any protections your work may be eligible for under the law. Depending on the nature of your creation, these protections may include copyrights and/or patents.

 

What Falls Under Copyright Protection?

Unlike patents, which protect physical inventions, new designs for existing products and certain discoveries, copyright protection covers original works of art and authorship when expressed in tangible mediums. Literary, artistic, musical and dramatic works of art are protected via copyright. In addition, computer software and architecture may be protected by copyright as well.

An important difference between copyright and patent is that copyright protections are granted automatically. You do not need to file for a copyright per se, as copyright protections apply, “the moment (a work) is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device” according to the U.S. Copyright Office. However, you cannot generally file suit protecting your work against infringement unless your copyright has been registered with the USCO. The USCO highly recommends registering one’s artistic work because absent this process, copyright protections cannot generally be effectively enforced.

 

What is Covered by Patent Protection?

There are three primary kinds of patent protection available to businesses and the general public. Plant patents protect new asexually reproducing plant species and hybrids. Utility patents protect new products and processes, while design patents protect new design elements integral to existing manufactured products or processes. In general, works eligible for patents are novel, non-obvious and useful, but some exceptions to this rule may apply.

It is worth noting that unlike copyright protections, no patent protection is granted automatically upon the creation of a product or process. Therefore, it is imperative that inventors and businesses formally apply for patent protection as soon as their work is prototyped and capable of reproduction.

 

Consult an Intellectual Property Attorney

If you are interested in registering a work of art or authorship or patenting a product, process, design or discovery, please consider reaching out to an knowledgeable intellectual property attorney LawTrades. We have extensive experience aiding both individuals and businesses in obtaining the intellectual property protections that their works are eligible for. The registration process and patent application process are detailed and are often difficult to navigate. Filling out even a single section of paperwork incompletely or incorrectly can result in rejection. Let our team help you get this process right the first time around in order to better ensure that your work is safeguarded from infringement as soon as it becomes eligible for protection.