In today’s high-tech economy, it’s common for aspiring entrepreneurs to form businesses that rely heavily on their intellectual property rights. However, to ensure your new company remains on a solid legal foundation and prevent others from profiting off your ideas, you need to seek assistance from a skilled business law attorney to apply for the necessary copyrights, trademarks, and patents.
Copyrights Protect Works of Authorship
Copyright provides legal protection for original works of authorship such as novels, poetry, films, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyrights are registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, which is a division of the Library of Congress.
When work is created by an individual, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author, plus 70 years. When the work is created anonymously, pseudonymously, and for hire, the copyright lasts 95 years from the date of publication or 120 years from the date of creation—whichever is shorter.
Trademarks Protect Your Brand Identity
Trademarks are used to protect words, phrases, symbols, and designs that form your brand identity and help distinguish your business from the competition—including slogans, logos, and the name of your business itself. Registration of a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is not required but provides a legal presumption of ownership and gives you the right to use the ® symbol after your mark.
Trademark rights do not expire after a set term of years because they come from your actual use of the intellectual property in question. Your trademark can theoretically last forever if you continue to use the mark in your business. Your registration also lasts forever if you continue to file the necessary documents and pay the appropriate fees at regular intervals.
Patents Protect Inventions
Patents protect intellectual property rights related to inventions and must be granted by the USPTO. Some examples of patentable inventions include machines, manufactured articles, industrial processes, and chemical compositions. Receiving a patent grants you the right to produce your product without fear of competition.
There are two types of patents. Design patents will protect inventions for 15 years from issuance if the application was filed on or after May 13, 2015. Utility patents and plant patents protect inventions 20 years from the date the patent application was filed.
Do You Have Questions About the Future of Your Business?
If you have questions about the legal issues associated with running a successful business, our experienced business law attorney can help. Please contact us online, or call our Virginia Beach office. We also have offices throughout Virginia, including Chesapeake, Newport News, Norfolk, and Suffolk.