Get the right protection

Compare trademarks, copyrights, and patents to know exactly what you need.

Protection type
Summary
Key benefits
How long it lasts
Protection type
Summary
Key benefits
How long it lasts

Protects business and product names, logos, and slogans

For business and product owners

Attorney assistance available

No one else can use your trademark to sell similar products/services

You can file a federal lawsuit to stop competitors from using and profiting from your mark

Allows you to use the ® symbol and notify the public of your ownership

Can last forever, but must file maintenance forms at 5 years, 10 years, and every 10 years after that

Protects books, articles, plays, films, songs, photos, art, architectural works, software, etc.

For authors, artists, architects, and other creative professionals

Must be an actual piece of work, ideas alone cannot be registered

Attorney guidance available

Publicizes and helps prove your ownership

You can file a federal lawsuit against anyone who uses or profits from your work without permission

Typically lasts the creator's lifetime, plus 70 years (can't be renewed)

Temporarily protects your rights to an invention until you can file for a formal utility patent

For inventors who aren't ready to file for a utility patent

You can immediately start labeling your invention as "patent pending"

Attorney assistance available

Keeps others from getting rights to your invention before you're able to file a formal application

Saves a filing date with the USPTO

Lasts for one year (can't be renewed, but you can refile)

Protects inventions, including machines, manufactured goods, processes, and chemical formulas

For inventors

Attorney assistance included

Prevents others from making, using, or selling your invention without permission

Patents are considered property so you can sell or license yours

Lasts 20 years (can't be renewed)

Protects how a product looks

For inventors and designers

Attorney assistance included

Prevents others from making, using, or selling your design without permission

Patents are considered property so you can sell or license yours

Lasts 15 years (can't be renewed)

Protection type

Summary

Protects business and product names, logos, and slogans

For business and product owners

Attorney assistance available

Key benefits

No one else can use your trademark to sell similar products/services

You can file a federal lawsuit to stop competitors from using and profiting from your mark

Allows you to use the ® symbol and notify the public of your ownership

How long it lasts

Can last forever, but must file maintenance forms at 5 years, 10 years, and every 10 years after that

Get started

Summary

Protects books, articles, plays, films, songs, photos, art, architectural works, software, etc.

For authors, artists, architects, and other creative professionals

Must be an actual piece of work, ideas alone cannot be registered

Attorney guidance available

Key benefits

Publicizes and helps prove your ownership

You can file a federal lawsuit against anyone who uses or profits from your work without permission

How long it lasts

Typically lasts the creator's lifetime, plus 70 years (can't be renewed)

Get started

Summary

Temporarily protects your rights to an invention until you can file for a formal utility patent

For inventors who aren't ready to file for a utility patent

You can immediately start labeling your invention as "patent pending"

Attorney assistance available

Key benefits

Keeps others from getting rights to your invention before you're able to file a formal application

Saves a filing date with the USPTO

How long it lasts

Lasts for one year (can't be renewed, but you can refile)

Get started

Summary

Protects inventions, including machines, manufactured goods, processes, and chemical formulas

For inventors

Attorney assistance included

Key benefits

Prevents others from making, using, or selling your invention without permission

Patents are considered property so you can sell or license yours

How long it lasts

Lasts 20 years (can't be renewed)

Get started

Summary

Protects how a product looks

For inventors and designers

Attorney assistance included

Key benefits

Prevents others from making, using, or selling your design without permission

Patents are considered property so you can sell or license yours

How long it lasts

Lasts 15 years (can't be renewed)

Get started

Frequently asked questions

It means you've filed a patent application (provisional or nonprovisional), and lets competitors know you've staked a claim to your invention.
Not necessarily. The USPTO searches high and low not only for exact matches, but also for those close enough to cause confusion. And if they find a conflict, they'll reject your application. We offer a comprehensive search for exact and similar matches before filing so you can avoid surprises later.
You could apply for both, though most people start with a trademark. A trademark protects your logo as a brand in business, while a copyright protects it as an artistic work.
You can start the process, but the USPTO won't officially register your trademark until you can show you're using it in business. Some people want to register their trademark as soon as possible, so they can be confident their brand is protected before spending time and resources building it. Others would rather get their business going to see if it's viable before registering their trademark.
Most of the time, it's one work per copyright. But there are exceptions, including group registrations, collective works, and works packaged as a single unit.

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