ncbaweblaw Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights

WebLaw – Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights

Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights

There are three types of patents, or grants from the United States government that protect an inventor from others making use of his or her invention for a specific number of years.

  • A utility patent protects inventions in machinery, processes, manufactured articles and compositions of matter for 20 years from filing.
  • A design patent protects the ornamentation and appearance of manufactured articles for 14 years from issue of the patent.
  • A plant patent protects new varieties of shrubs, trees, and flowers. To obtain a patent, an application must be filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

A trademark is a distinctive sign or indicator to identify the manufacturer or provider of particular products. A service mark has the same purpose, except that it designates the origin of a service instead of a product. The owners of trade and service marks have the right to prohibit anyone else from using their marks or other marks that may be similar. These marks protect the consumer from being deceived as to the source of a product or service. They also protect the reputation of their owners.

A copyright enables a creative artist to stop others from using his or her original work without permission. Before a copyright can be enforced, however, it must be registered with the Library of Congress.

The value of patents, trademarks and copyrights often depends on legal considerations; therefore, it is advisable to consult a patent attorney before filing.

For more information on trademarks, service marks, and patents, contact the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office at “ . Further information regarding copyrights is available from the U.S. Copyright Office at

The information provided by the Nassau County Bar Association is not meant to serve as specific legal advice for a particular situation or as a substitute for consultation with a lawyer. If you require the services of a lawyer, you may call the Nassau County Lawyer Referral Service at (516) 747-4832, email, or go to

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