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#204 Patents, trademarks and copyrights

mp3 #204 Patents Trademarks and Copyrights (mp3 file)


The business of Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights is highly specialized. Consulting with an attorney upfront about these matters can save you thousands of dollars should your Intellectual Property ever become the subject of a dispute. Continue here to be referred to an experienced and insured Intellectual Property attorney, or call (213) 243-1525.


A patent is a grant from a government to an inventor giving him the right to exclude other people from making, using or selling his invention for a certain number of years. After the patent expires, anyone may practice the invention. The patent is a reward to the inventor in return for disclosing his invention to the public and thereby advancing the art.

The United States government issues three kinds of patents. First, and most common, are utility patents which protect inventions of new, useful and unobvious processes, machines, articles of manufacture, or compositions of matter. Utility patents last for 17 years. Second are design patents which protect new and unobvious ornamental appearances of manufactured articles. Design patents last up to 14 years depending on the fee paid. Third are plant patents which protect new varieties of plants such as shrubs, trees and flowers.

If you have made an invention for which you think patent protection may be worthwhile, you may establish the date of your invention by promptly preparing a detailed description of the invention, then signing and dating the description. Also explain your invention to one or more trustworthy persons who are capable of understanding the invention and have them read, sign and date the description.

You may apply for a patent by filing a patent application in the United States Patent and Trademark office. You may prepare and file the application yourself; however, since the value of a patent often depends upon the skill with which the application is prepared, it is usually in your best interest to consult a patent attorney who is skilled in these matters. Ordinarily, the attorney will first recommend a novelty search to determine whether the invention appears to be patentable. If a patent application is to be filed in the United States, it must be filed within one year from the time the invention was first offered for sale, used publicly, or described in a printed publication. In certain other countries, a patent application must be filed before any public disclosure or sale. Further information about patents is contained in a booklet entitled "General Information Concerning Patents", which may be obtained upon request from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Washington, D.C. 20231.

What is a trademark?

A trademark is a name, symbol or emblem which identifies goods as coming from a particular manufacturer or distributor. The owner of a trademark may prohibit others from using his trademark or other trademarks which may be confusingly similar. Trademarks protect the purchaser from being deceived as to the source of goods which he buys; further, they protect the good will and reputation of the owner of the trademark. Service marks are similar to trademarks except that they are used to designate the origin of services rather than of products. Rights in a trademark or service mark are obtained by using the mark on goods or in connection with services that are sold. After goods or services bearing a mark have been shipped or sold in interstate or foreign commerce, the mark may be registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Then the owner of the mark may place the familiar abbreviated "Reg. U.S. Pat. Off." or a capital "R" enclosed in a circle near his trademark to indicate that the mark is registered. Since the choice and protection of trademarks involves meeting various legal requirements, an attorney familiar with trademark and service mark law should be consulted before a mark is adopted. Most patent attorneys are qualified practitioners in this field of law. Further information concerning trademarks is given at the website www.uspto.gov and in a pamphlet entitled "General Information Concerning Trademarks", which may be obtained from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Washington, D.C. 20231.

What is a copyright?

A copyright is the right of an artist, author or composer to exclude others from reproducing certain of his original works, such as literature, music, drama, pictures, sculpture, motion pictures and sound recordings. A copyright on a published work is obtained by merely placing a notice of the copyright on the first and every subsequent copy of the work. Unpublished works need not have a notice thereon. The work should then be registered with the United States Library of Congress by making an application for registration to the Register of Copyrights. The application may need to be accompanied by a specified number of copies of the work together with a small fee. Most patent attorneys are familiar with the forms and procedures required for placing a copyright notice on a work and for registering a copyright. Further information concerning copyrights may be obtained at the website www.copyright.gov or upon request from the register of copyrights, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 2054

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