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Intellectual Property

July 13, 2024

Often times people confuse Trademarks, Copyrights, and Patents. The question is, what is the difference between the three and why are they important?

What Is a Patent?

A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the Patent and Trademark Office. The term of a new patent is 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, in special cases, from the date an earlier related application was filed, subject to the payment of maintenance fees. US patent grants are effective only within the US,
US territories, and US possessions.

The right conferred by the patent grant is, in the language of the statute and of the grant itself, ?the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling? the invention in the United States or ?importing? the invention into the United States. What is granted is not the right to make, use, offer for sale, sell or import, but the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the invention.

What Is a Trademark or Servicemark?

A trademark is a word, name, symbol or device which is used in trade with goods to indicate the source of the goods and to distinguish them from the goods of others. A servicemark is the same as a trademark except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product. The terms "trademark" and "mark" are commonly used to refer to both trademarks and servicemarks.

Trademark rights may be used to prevent others from using a confusingly similar mark, but not to prevent others from making the same goods or from selling the same goods or services under a clearly different mark. Trademarks which are used in interstate or foreign commerce may be registered with the Patent and Trademark Office. The registration procedure for trademarks and general information concerning trademarks is described in a separate pamphlet entitled "Basic Facts about Trademarks".

What Is a Copyright?

Copyright is a form of protection provided to the authors of ?original works of authorship? including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished. The 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to reproduce the copyrighted work, to prepare derivative works, to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work, to perform the copyrighted work publicly, or to display the copyrighted work publicly.

The copyright protects the form of expression rather than the subject matter of the writing. For example, a description of a machine could be copyrighted, but this would only prevent others from copying the description; it would not prevent others from writing a description of their own or from making and using the machine. Copyrights are registered by the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress.


Western New York: On the Cutting Edge of Spam

Stephanie A. Cole, Esq.

Here are some fun facts to impress your friends with the next time you?re at the water cooler complaining about unsolicited e-mail: six European countries have already passed stiff regulations to put the cabosh on spam, while last month, the European Parliament took a vote that will result in an almost spam-free EU by 2003. Meanwhile, here in the land of Bill Gates, Silicon V/Alley, and AOL, only 21 states have specific anti-spam laws, and Congress, despite many proposals, has yet to give us comprehensive, anti-spam federal legislation. Makes you want to call up the company listserve and tell everyone to demand some action, right?

Well, don?t worry. Because, despite our lack of targeted legislation (New York is not one of the 21 states to have an anti-spam law) our techno-savvy Attorney General (who led the anti-trust charge against Microsoft) is using a blanket ?false advertising? law to quash the mailing activities of Niagara Falls-based ?MonsterHut, Inc.,? a company so spam-happy that three-quarters of a million people have requested removal from its mailing list. International attention has been focused on New York?s action against the ?Hut, and with a possible $500-per-unsolicited-message fine, the company (as of this writing) is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.

On the national front, the Federal Trade Commission has declared open season on spammers and web scammers, going after an array of schemes, including a site hawking the ?cure for cancer? (to be had for a mere $2,400 a cure), a $10,000 chain-letter e-mail pyramid scheme, and a CD retailer who took your money, and didn?t even have the decency to send you a pirated CD. The FTC is also working in coalition with Canada and several state governments to stop the ever-more-creative array of electronic crooks and cons.

And what can we, the people, do? Concerned citizens can lend their hearts and minds to CAUCE?the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail (www.cauce.org). Complaints can be lodged with both the NY Attorney General (www.oag.state.ny.us) and the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov). The FTC also keeps a log of the latest spams and scams. And finally, if you need a good laugh, go to www.thespamletters.com.

And don?t send along chain letters involving money or valuables! It?s illegal?not to mention, annoying.


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