Patents, what are they good for?

By: gunnertech
February 21, 2018

At Gunner Technology, we deal a lot with patents.

In fact, we deal with a lot of Intellectual Property protection, including patents, copyrights, trademarks and non-disclosure agreements.

There’s often confusion around what each of these do, so it’s probably best to start there.

A patent is a right granted to an inventor by the federal government that permits the inventor to exclude others from making, selling or using the invention for a period of time.

Patents are further broken down into three categories:

Utility Patents: The most common type of patent, these are granted to new machines, chemicals, and processes.

Design Patents: Granted to protect the unique appearance or design of manufactured objects, such as the surface ornamentation or overall design of the object.

Plant Patents: Granted for the invention and asexual reproduction of new and distinct plant varieties, including hybrids.

Design patents expire 15 years from issuance while Plant and Utility patents expire 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed.

We’ll be focusing primarily on utility patents.

A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.

A service mark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods.

Some examples include: brand names, slogans, and logos. The term “trademark” is often used in a general sense to refer to both trademarks and service marks.

Unlike patents and copyrights, trademarks do not expire after a set term of years.

Trademark rights come from actual “use.”

Therefore, a trademark can last forever – so long as you continue to use the mark in commerce to indicate the source of goods and services. A trademark registration can also last forever – so long as you file specific documents and pay fees at regular intervals.

A copyright protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software and architecture.

The duration of copyright protection depends on several factors.

For works created by an individual, protection lasts for the life of the author, plus 70 years.

For works created anonymously, pseudonymously, and for hire, protection lasts 95 years from the date of publication or 120 years from the date of creation, whichever is shorter.