Mark E. Stein, Esq.
Board Certified Intellectual Property Attorney
Mark Stein Law
“Intellectual Property” refers to the property of your mind. It generally includes inventions, artistic works like sculptures and paintings and brand names and logos, which identify the goods and services we buy and sell. The three primary types of intellectual property are patents, trademarks and copyrights. The purpose of this article is to provide a very brief overview of the three types of intellectual property. For more information, please contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org or (305) 356-7550.
Patents generally protect inventions that are useful, such as a new machine, a new method or way to doing something or a new process for making or using something. These patents are known as Utility Patents. You can also secure patent protection for new and original ornamental designs (“Design Patents”) and certain types of asexually reproduced plants (“Plant Patents”). Trademarks or service marks protect brand names, logos, slogans like BMW, the Mont Blanc Star or the phrase JUST DO IT. In addition the look and feel of a particular product or services and the product’s packaging can be protected by Trade Dress. Trademark law also includes unfair competition law, covering the areas of dilution, trade secrets, deceptive and unfair trade practices and related areas of law. Copyright protects original works of authorship including, books, songs, photographs and webpages. Often individuals view copyright as protection for art, which is in part correct. However, copyright protect extends to many different types of works, such as building designs and software.
A single product may be entitled to patent, trademark and copyright protection. For example, a lamp may have a base that is elaborately designed with a unique shape and design and also havs a unique and novel on/off switch. The creator of the lamp may be able to claim copyright protection in the entire lamp as a sculptural work. She may be able to claim design patent protection for the ornamental features of the lamp and could also be able to seek a utility patent for the unique on/off switch. If over time, consumers began to recognize the shape and configuration of the lamp as coming from a single company, like for example TIFFANY, then owner of the lamp may also be able to seek trademark protection for the unique shape and configuration.
The above is a very general overview to provide the reader with a basic understanding. You should consult an intellectual property attorney to determine how to best protect your rights.