A trademark simply indicates the origin of goods or services available on the market. A trademark can be a logo, name, slogan or other device such as musical tones or product shape. Unlike patents, trademarks are not limited in duration. They are valid as long as the trademark continues to be used in commerce. Similar to patents, trademarks are also administered by the USPTO. Further information about United States trademarks is found on trademarks section of the USPTO website.
A copyright protects the intellectual content of artistic, literary and musical works such as a book, manuscript, musical score or photograph. See What Does Copyright Protect? Copyrights are registered with the United States Copyright Office.
Trade secrets are a fourth informal area of intellectual property protection whereby the owner of information valuable to his or her company takes measures to shield this information from competitors. These can include formulas and recipes, business strategies, marketing plans, customer pricing and sales data.
Use the USPTO's IP Identifier to identify and protect your intellectual property.
For further explanation, watch the USPTO video Basic Facts: Trademarks, Patents and Copyrights.
A patent gives its owner the legal exclusive right to his or her invention for a limited period of time. After the term of a patent expires, the technology become public domain to benefit of society. A patent is granted by a country's intellectual property office which in the United States is the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) which is a division of the United States Department of Commerce. According to the United States Constitution, a patent is defined as-
"any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new or useful improvement thereof"
In order for an invention to be considered patentable, it must meet all three of the following criteria-
The USPTO grants three different types of patents-
Everything one needs to know about United States patents is contained in the USPTO website. Make sure you read the General Information Concerning Patents section of the website to understand patent basics.