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Welcome to the Intellectual Property FAQ  page!

Here you can find the answers for many of your Frequently Asked Questions. The majority of these questions have come from people like you looking to learn more about the type of work they do. If you don’t find your answers here, email us for assistance and we will be sure to add it to the list.

Patents are a property right granted by the Government of the United States of America to an inventor “to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States” for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted.

A trademark is a protection of words, names, symbols, sounds, or colors that distinguish goods and services from those manufactured or sold by others and to indicate the source of the goods. Trademarks, unlike patents, can be renewed forever as long as they are being used in commerce.

A trade name is a pseudonym used by companies to perform their business under a name that differs from the registered, legal name of the business. A trade name is filed at the Secretary of State.

(i) it grants the right to use the registered trademark symbol: ®, (ii) it grants the right to file a trademark infringement lawsuit in federal court and to obtain monetary remedies, including infringer’s profits, damages, costs, and, in some cases, treble damages and attorneys’ fees, (iii) it acts as a bar to the registration of another confusingly similar mark, and (iv) it may serve as the basis for an international trademark application.

A service mark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods. The term “trademark” is often used to refer to both trademarks and service marks.

A Copyright is a form of protection provided to the authors of “original works of authorship” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished. The 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to reproduce the copyrighted work, to prepare derivative works, to distribute copies or phono records of the copyrighted work, to perform the copyrighted work publicly, or to display the copyrighted work publicly.

The copyright protects the form of expression rather than the subject matter of the writing. For example, a description of a machine could be copyrighted, but this would only prevent others from copying the description; it would not prevent others from writing a description of their own or from making and using the machine. Copyrights are issued by the Library of Congress.

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works.

It depends on the type of search being requested.  Some of the more popular searches are the “chain of title”, “portfolio” and “in-process” searches.  The chain of title search provides basic claim information as well as any recorded instruments and new submissions on record for a “specific title.”  The portfolio search is a search for any claims, recordation or new submission on record under the name of an individual or company at the US federal level.  The in-process search is a search for new submissions to the US Copyright Office by name or title.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States Copyright Law that implements two 1996 treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures (commonly known as digital rights manager or DRM) that control access to copyrighted works. It also criminalizes the act of circumventing an access control, whether or not there is actual infringement of copyright itself. In addition, the DMCA heightens the penalties for copyright infringement on the internet. Passed on October 12, 1998, by a unanimous vote in the United States Senate and signed into law by President Bill Clinton on October 28, 1998, the DMCA amended Title 17of the United States Code to extend the reach of copyright, while limiting the liability of the providers of on line services for copyright infringement by their users.

The Copyright Chain of Title search will provide results for Assignments and Security Interests

When conducting due diligence searches to determine assets held on the state level, you may choose to conduct various searches to determine the current owner of  federal patents and/or trademarks.  As with copyright, you may conduct a patent and/or trademark chain of title search to determine the owner(s).

A Chain of Title search will provide this information.

Complete the Trademark Cover Sheet and submit a copy of the Trademark Assignment.

A fourth type of intellectual property, in addition to patents, trademarks, and copyrights, is trade secrets. Trade secrets consist of information and can include a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique or process.

Contrary to patents, trade secrets are protected without registration, that is, trade secrets are protected without any procedural formalities.

See for more information on how the US can provide protections:  http://www.uspto.gov/patents-getting-started/international-protection/trade-secret-policy

Patents are a property right granted by the Government of the United States of America to an inventor “to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States” for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issues several different types of patent documents offering different kinds of protection and covering different types of subject matter.

A recently issued USPTO patent document is one of six types, generally described below. See U.S. Code Title 35 – Patents, for a full description of patents and patent laws.

Utility Patent- Issued for the invention of a new and Useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or a new and useful improvement thereof, it generally permits its owner to exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention for a period of up to twenty years from the date of patent application, subject to the payment of maintenance fees. Approximately 90% of the patent documents issued by the USPTO in recent years have been utility patents, also referred to as “patents for invention”.

Design Patent- Issued for a new, original, and ornamental design embodied in or applied to an article of manufacture, it permits its owner to exclude others from making, using, or selling the design. Design patents issued from applications filed on or after May 13, 2015 shall be granted for the term of fifteen years from the date of grant. Design patents issued from applications filed before May 13, 2015 shall be granted for the term of fourteen years from the date of grant. Design patents are not subject to the payment of maintenance fees.

Plant Patent- Issued for a new and distinct, invented or discovered asexually reproduced plant including cultivated sports, mutants, hybrids, and newly found

seedlings, other than a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state, it permits its owner to exclude others from making, using, or selling the plant for a period of up to twenty years from the date of patent application.  Plant patents are not subject to the payment of maintenance fees.

Reissue Patent- Issued to correct an error in an already issued utility, design, or plant patent, it does not affect the period of protection offered by the original patent. However, the scope of patent protection can change as a result of the reissue patent.

Defensive Publication (DEF)-Issued instead of a regular utility, design, or plant patent, it offers what limited protection, defensive in nature, to prevent others from patenting an invention, design, or plant. The Defensive Publication was replaced by the Statutory Invention Registration in 1985-86.

Statutory Invention Registration (SIR) – This document replaced the Defensive Publication in 1985-86 and offered similar protection. Please note that the America

Invents Act (AIA), which was signed into law on September 16, 2011, repeals provisions pertaining to statutory invention registrations and the issue of these documents will be discontinued.

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