The Big Three of Intellectual Property are:
- Patents – Protecting new and non-obvious inventions and designs
- Trademarks – Protecting logos, brand names, and other source-identifying marks
- Copyrights – Protecting artistic expressions
There are trade secrets as well, but we don’t let them out after dark.
Patent law focuses on inventions. It grants a monopoly over an invention for a limited time, in exchange for a disclosure of how the invention works. To get a patent, the inventor’s attorney (hopefully) creates a specification and drawings that explain how the invention works, along with claims that define the scope of what is protected. Then the attorney argues with a patent examiner for a few years, and if all goes well, a patent is born.
If you take away anything from this page, please know that you can’t trademark an invention, you can’t patent a song, and you can’t copyright a brand.
But you can get a patent, a trademark, and a copyright on a product design all at the same time, so… I guess just relax and take it all in.