> What is a copyright?
A form of legal protection given to any original work of authorship that has been reduced to a tangible form.

> What does it protect?
A copyright protects literary works, including articles and books; visual works, including photographs, films, cartoons, and graphic designs; architectural works; sound recordings and musical compositions. It does not protect ideas, names, titles, concepts, or anything not reduced to a tangible form.

> How long does it last?
A copyright lasts for the life of the copyright holder, plus seventy years.

> How can you protect your copyright?
Use the notice symbol on all your work. Write out the word “Copyright” or use the “c” inside the circle, or use the abbreviation “Copr.”; then include the year the work was first published (used in public); then the name of the copyright holder. Example, [Copyright 2001 Francine Ward, JD]. This let’s everyone know you’re the owner of the protected work.
Secondly, always register your work with the United States Copyright Office (See Resources). It is well worth the $30 for the added protection.

> What is a trademark?
A word, phrase, symbol, design, logo, name, or any combination of, which distinguishes one entity from another. For example, when you see the golden arches, you immediately think of McDonald’s and when you hear McDonald’s, you think of hamburgers.

> How do you protect it?
Although a trademark is protected through use and monitoring, added protection can be had through federal registration of the mark with the United States Patent Trademark Office (See Resources).

> How long does it last?
A trademark lasts forever but must be renewed every ten years prior to expiration. Additionally, an Affidavit of Use must be filed between the 5th and 6th year after registration demonstrating active use of the mark.

> What is a patent?
A patent is legal protection given to a new and useful invention or process. There are three types of patents: design, utility, and plant.

> How long does it last?
A patent lasts 20 years.

> Can I protect ideas?
While ideas cannot be protected through a copyright, trademark, or patent, they can be protected through the use of protective agreements or contracts, such as confidentiality agreements.

> GoTo Resources