« previous | home | search | about | next »


Q: I am slightly confused. Can you help me understand patent, copyrights, and trademark? Do they really mean the same thing?

A: A patent is basically a license granted by a governmental agency allowing the holder the sole right to make, use, and sell an invention. This includes the perennial "better mousetrap" someone is always trying to invent. It excludes others from marketing the same design for a certain period of time. 

A copyright applies to the use of a written work. The owner of the copyright is the only one who can publish, reproduce, or stage a production of this work, again for a period of time. This would apply to a work like a book. 

A trademark is a symbol, device, a word, or a combination of words which distinguish a particular set of goods or a company. An example of a trademarked symbol would be the Nike "swoosh."

The three words thus apply to different kinds of original work, but all give the originators some legal rights and protection against being copied. 

« previous | home | search | about | next »

Remember to bookmark this page