What’s The Difference Between A Patent, Trademark, and Copyright?

You’ve got a great idea and you want to protect it; the first step is identifying whether or not you need a patent, a trademark, or a copyright. Though each option is recognized as a type of intellectual property protection, understanding each one can determine which choice you should make.

Difference between Patent, Trademark & Copyright

Here are the different definitions for each type of intellectual property.


Patents are used among 12 primary industries, but just about anyone can apply for a patent. In fact, over 500,000 patent applications are sent to the USPTO annually. Patents usually work to encourage innovation in these industries that promote technological advancements.

By publicly disclosing the invention, you’re granted rights pertaining to your invention. Once you obtain a patent, your invention is protected for around 20 years after the date of the application. For design patents, your invention is protected for around 15 years. This ensures no one else uses your idea or invention without expressed consent from the patent owner. If your patent is infringed upon, you can discuss your options with a patent attorney.


Trademark law is a little different from the other two. A trademark is usually an easily recognizable symbol, word, phrase, or name that helps to identify a company, service, or good. Sometimes, a trademark logo or illustration can also have a copyright.

While you don’t need to apply for a trademark, understanding trademark law can be difficult. If you’re interested in learning more about trademark law, patent law, and copyright information, contact your local Denver patent lawyer for more information. At the Eldredge Law Firm, we work to get you the protection you deserve.

Copyrights are rights that are granted once you create an original work. It usually refers to any literary, creative, musical, or artistic works including novels, scripts, songs, and movies. Typically, the copyright lasts for as long as the author or copyright holder is alive with an additional 70 years on top of that.

It’s up to the copyright holder to grant access for third-party use, whether that be through sales, distributing copies, reproducing the work, or allowing performances.

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