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Compare Trademark v. Copyright v. Patent



Trademark Copyright Provisional Patent Design Patent
What can be protected? Business Name, Logo, Slogan, Product or Service Name used by the owner to distinguish his/her goods or services in the market place.

“Original works of authorship,” including
literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works.

Utility Invention: invention of a new and useful product/article of manufacture (e.g., a chair), composition (e.g., new alloy), or process (e.g., the process of making the  respective alloy).

Design Invention: new exterior appearance of a useful product/article of manufacture (e.g., the appearance of a chair, a watch, etc).

Who should generally apply for protection? Trademark Owner: the person or the business entity (e.g., corporation), which controls the use of the trademark. Author Inventor Inventor
For how long is the protection offered? Indefinitely: generally, the owner of the trademark is protected for as long as the trademark is used in commerce.

Generally, for the life of the author plus 70 years.

1 year. [Within that year, a non - provisional application has to be filed. If the patent is granted, the invention is protected for a total of 20 years].

14 years
Can the initial period of protection be extended? Trademark protection is indefinite (see above). However, maintenance is required (periodic filings and fees). No. No. No.
Which governmental agency is involved? USPTO US Copyright Office. USPTO USPTO
Where is the owner/author/inventor protected? USA USA USA USA
Do owners/authors/inventors have some rights if they do not apply for protection?

Yes. Some rights in a trademark can be acquired by simply using it in commerce. However, a registered trademark provides additional significant benefits (see below).

Yes. Generally, Copyright is secured when the work is created. However, there are significant benefits obtained by registration  (see below).

Generally, no. Generally, no.
What are the benefits of applying for protection?

Exclusivity of right to use is presumed.

Official notice to the public.

Right to sue in federal court, etc.

A public record of the copyright.

Proving ownership is greatly simplified.

Right to sue in federal court, etc.

The provisional application is generally the first step in securing ownership in an utility invention.

Applying for a design patent can lead to its grant and the 14 years protection which comes with it.

  Trademark Copyright Provisional Patent Design Patent
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