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Types of Patent Protection: Other Types of Protection

Trademarks

A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods or services of one party from those of others.

For example, here are several trademarks owned by the The Procter & Gamble Corporation:

Oral-B

Cross-Action

Power Tip Bristles

Spinbrush

Trade Secrets

A TRADE SECRET is information that companies hold in conficence to give them an advantage over their competitors. The formula for Coca-Cola is a famous trade secret. Trade secrets are protected by state laws, not by patents or trademarks.

Copyright

Copyright protects the artistic expression of advertising copy and other writings and websites.  Again following on the toothbrush example, the Oral-B website presents copyrighted information describing their products.  At the bottom of the webpage is the notice © 2017 Procter & Gamble alerting viewers that the content is covered by copyright.

Non-US Patents

United States patents only protect Inventions produced and sold in the United States.  It is possible to protect your invention in other countries, but you must file for protection in the country where you are seeking protection. 

It is important to note that even a non - U.S. patent qualifies as prior art.  That means you need to search foreign patents, too.

Industrial Designs

The United States is the only country that protects the ornamental appearance of an invention with a Design Patent.  Many other countries protect manufactured items with something called Industrial Designs.  Here are several publications describing this type of intellectual property