A copyright is a form of legal protection for "original works of authorship." Screenplays, music, employee handbooks and commercial brochures are examples of work that is eligible for copyright protection, giving owners the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, publicly perform and display their work. Legal protection is extended as soon as the work is created. Registration provides the owner with establishing public awareness of its use.
Understanding Copyright Law
Need an answer that can't be found on the U.S. Copyright Office Web site? Copyright information in plain English can be found at Nolo.com. Visit the U.S. Copyright Office for answers to frequently asked questions about copyright law and usage.
U.S. Library of Congress
James Madison Memorial Building
Washington, D.C. 20559
(202) 707-9100 - Order Line
(202) 707-3000 - Information Line
For businesses, trademarks are one of the most valuable forms of intellectual property. A trademark is any word, combination of words, or symbol attached to a product or service. It is the chief means of identification for a product or service, which when marketed, becomes a brand. Because success for most businesses depends on how recognizable their brand becomes, taking the steps to protect trademarks from imitators is critical.
Search, Registration and Filing
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is the primary source of patent and trademark
registration protection used by U.S. and international businesses.
To register a trademark contact:
U.S. Department of Commerce
2021 Jefferson Davis Highway
Arlington, Virginia 22202
(703) 305-8341 or (800) 786-9199
Federal vs. State
Federal intellectual property registration entitles the owner to use trademarks, patents and copyright throughout the United States, and provides some protection internationally as well. State governments also allow for the registration of intellectual property, although the protection provided is comparatively limited. Furthermore, most state governments will only register trademarks and will not allow the registration of copyrights or patents.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is the primary source of patent and trademark registration protection used by U.S. and international businesses. The U.S. Copyright Office is the authority concerning U.S. Copyright law and filing procedures.
State Registration. In most states, intellectual property registrations are done through the Secretary of State's Office. Use Firstgov.com to find the authority in your state. Caution: Federally registered trademarks may conflict with and supersede state registered business and product names. Businesses are encouraged to check for conflicts with federal trademarks.
Intellectual property is often worth more to a business than its tangible assets. Consisting of business strategies, images, concepts and ideas, lawful protection of intellectual property predates the U.S. Constitution. Now protected by patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets, businesses must take the appropriate steps to ensure that their intellectual property is kept safe from competing businesses, defecting partners and even employees. Intellectual property law covers a very broad spectrum of legal issues involving contracts, patents, trademarks, copyrights and more. The level of expertise of lawyers specializing in these areas can vary from generalists in the field to experts in sub-specialties that may range from information technology (“IT”) to entertainment law.
To register a patent, contact:
Asst. Commissioner for Trademarks, Patent Applications
Washington, D.C. 20231
Also, visit their web site at http://www.uspto.gov
New and useful inventions can be protected by a U.S. patent. Professional assistance from a patent attorney is strongly urged because patent procedures are detailed and technical. A patent search is performed to see if a patent currently exists on the same or nearly the same device and, if not, to make proper application with the Patent Office.
Note: Only attorneys and agents registered with the U.S. Patent Office may represent inventors. The office has geographical and alphabetical listings of the more than 11,000 registered agents. Only these agents may perform patent searches in the patent office. Inventors or their attorneys can make arrangements with one of those agents. U.S. patents are issued by the Assistant Commissioner of Patents, Washington, D.C. Additional information is provided in the publication, General Information Concerning Patents and other publications distributed through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
DYNAMAX BUSINESS CREDIT
Protecting Your Ideas part 2