Trademark, Patent, or Copyright?

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. The term "trademark" is often used to refer to both trademarks and service marks.

Must all marks be registered? No, but federal registration has several advantages, including a notice to the public of the registrant's claim of ownership of the mark, a legal presumption of ownership nationwide, and the exclusive right to use the mark on or in connection with the goods or services set forth in the registration.

A patent is a limited duration property right relating to an invention, granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in exchange for public disclosure of the invention.

A copyright protects works of authorship, such as writings, music, and works of art that have been tangibly expressed.

The Trademark Operation of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) handles trademarks only. For information on patents, please visit Patents or contact 800-786-9199. For information on copyrights, please contact the U.S. Copyright Office (a division of the Library of Congress).