Patent vs. Trademark vs. Copyright
A great idea needs legal protection!
You need to hold your cards close while you are pitching your idea and getting it to market, and you need to protect your idea once it becomes a success and your competitors start to circle you looking to see if they can create a similar product.
You can protect yourself while you are still in the idea phase, but once your product hits the market, it’s fair game for the competition and imitators to attack. Before launching, see what you can trademark, patent, or copyright.
Trademark your company name, product name, and logo
As a new business your brand is everything. Standing out among the myriad of other products that may or may not be similar to yours relies on a strong brand and a recognizable logo. We may see “Cola” on a million knock-off products, but there’s only one “Coke.” You probably don’t realize it, but everywhere you look you see trademarks. Getting a trademark will serve as legal documentation, proving to anyone that you were the originator of an idea, name, logo, catchphrase, design, etc. should any speculations, or legal issues arise. Being first is everything, and a trademark is forever.
Get a patent for your idea or invention
If you have invented something new, something (hopefully) revolutionary, you need to get a patent for that invention before you go and show it to the world. Patents will last a long time, some up to 20 years depending on the type of patent you are seeking, but by the time the patent expires, you should have established a pretty solid and reputable brand that will keep investors and customers loyal, even if knockoffs start to appear on the market.
Copyright written works and works of art
Artists will need to copyright their materials. Books, songs, movies, and art should all be protected by the creator, to ensure that you retain the rights to that material and that you get compensated should someone want to use your material. Depending on how the material is created, whether you wrote it independently or for hire, the copyright can last for 70 years past the creator’s death.