“Intellectual Property” is a term for a certain area of the law, comprising of patents, copyrights, and trademarks. There are three types of intellectual property in the US, which are often confused with one another. These are are three distinct legal instruments used to define ownership in numerous ways. Here’s a brief breakdown of the three:
- Patents are associated with inventions. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office distributes patent rights for public view of the invention.
- Copyrights protect “works of authorship… that are tangible expresse,” usually referring to works of literature, music, and artwork. The U.S. Copyright Office handles the distribution of copyrights.
- A trademark is a “distinguishing factor” of a business; typically phrase, image, and design (ie slogan, logo, or name) that identifies and distinguishes the products that set it apart from other businesses. Trademark registration provides you with legal ownership of the mark, and is the only way you can use the mark nationwide.