Comparison of Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks as Assets

Patents Copyrights Trademarks
20 years from filing:
average - 15-17 years from issue date
Life of author plus 70 years – or – for pseudonymous works, or works done for hire, 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is longer Infinite, so long as you continue to use the mark in association with the goods or services
Right to exclude others, even independent later inventors Exclusive right to publish/perform/transform the work Protects commercial identity, exclusive and covers unfair competition
Make, use, sell devices, processes, products, composition of matter Photos, writings, art, music, architectural drawings Adopted/fanciful words, logos, slogans
Closest way to cover an idea Covers expression of idea, not the underlying idea Grows stronger the longer and more you use it
Covers the Technical How-To Can have independent identical copyright Identifies source
1st Inventor to file wins under the new America Invents Act (2011-2012) Can have independent identical copyright Nix on similar enough marks to cause likelihood of confusion

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