Host: What do I do about trademarks, copyrights and patterns when starting a business?
Fred Glave: Trademarks particularly or service marks are really any identifying terms or symbols that are used in commerce and they are protected by both and state and federal law. You can also look at them as a very valuable marketing entity. Of course, some very famous trademarks are Coca Cola, Microsoft, etcetera. But even in your business if you establish a trademark or a service name of any kind, you do want to register and protect it and in fact, often before you select a trade name or a trademark, you mat want to do a search to make sure that it is available. To register a trademark, you can do it yourself by going to www.
Copyrights are a different matter and they are used to protect any kind of original intellectual property, be it written documents, software program, music or etcetera. Now you can copyright any material that you produce by simply writing a copyright notice on that material. Even in the software program the very first frame that comes up when you load such a program, you should put a copyright mark on it. If you want to have a more secure and more easily defendable copyright, you can register it with the US Copyright office. That office is run by the Library of Congress, believe it or not and you simply may call at 202-7073000 to determine how to file a copyright registration. Now all of these matters, particularly with respect to copyrights are extremely complex and involve a lot of legal esoterica. When you come to patterns, the thing becomes even more complex and in fact, we now have a process in US law whereby you can file a provisional patent application which gives you protection for a year until you very go through the more formal process of filing a complete patent application. You should consult a patent attorney and again, a SCORE counselor can assist you in directing you to the right resources in order to file such a patent. 1