Upon its creation in 1787, the United States Constitution (Article 1, Section 8) provides for the federal enactment and regulation of Intellectual Property. This constitutional provision was historically the first of its kind, and has formed a basis for modern Intellectual Property Laws throughout the world. Accordingly,
the U.S. Constitution provides an incentive to create by giving creators property rights in the products of their creativity and, thus, has critically defined the United States as a nation and a culture of innovation.
Basic facts about Intellectual Property is as follows (as is defined by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website):
What Are Patents, Trademarks, Servicemarks, and Copyrights?
(Excerpted from General Information Concerning Patents print brochure)
Some people confuse patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Although there may be some similarities among these kinds of intellectual property protection, they are different and serve different purposes.
What Is a Patent?
A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the Patent and Trademark Office. The term of a new patent is 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, in special cases, from the date an earlier related application was filed, subject to the payment of maintenance fees. US patent grants are effective only within the United States as well as United States territories and its possessions. Under the America Invents Act, the United States transitioned from a historical “first-to-invent” to a “first inventor-to-file” patent application system that is more commonly used throughout the world.
The right conferred by the patent grant or issued “letters patent” is, in the language of the statute and of the grant itself, “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention in the United States or “importing” the invention into the United States. What is granted is not the right to make, use, offer for sale, sell or import, but the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the invention.
What Is a Trademark or Servicemark?
A trademark is a word, name, symbol or device which is used in trade with goods to indicate the source of the goods and to distinguish them from the goods of others. A servicemark is the same as a trademark except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product. The terms “trademark” and “mark” are commonly used to refer to both trademarks and servicemarks.
Trademark rights may be used to prevent others from using a confusingly similar mark, but not to prevent others from making the same goods or from selling the same goods or services under a clearly different mark. Trademarks which are used in interstate or foreign commerce may be registered with the Patent and Trademark Office. The registration procedure for trademarks and general information concerning trademarks is described in a separate pdf pamphlet entitled “Basic Facts about Trademarks”: http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/basics/.
What Is a Copyright?
Copyright is a form of protection provided to the authors of “original works of authorship” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished. The 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to reproduce the copyrighted work, to prepare derivative works, to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work, to perform the copyrighted work publicly, or to display the copyrighted work publicly.
The copyright protects the form of expression rather than the subject matter of the writing. For example, a description of a machine could be copyrighted, but this would only prevent others from copying the description; it would not prevent others from writing a description of their own or from making and using the machine. Copyrights are registered by the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress.
For other helpful facts about Intellectual Property please refer to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office