There are 3 key types of intellectual property: Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights.
"What is a Patent?
A patent is a government grant giving the owner the right to exclude
others from making, using, selling, offering to sell, and importing an
invention or discovery.
A patent gives the owner the right to exclude others from making,
using, selling, offering to sell and importing the invention within
the United States for the life of the patent. The patent rights
initially belong to the inventor, who may sell the patent rights
outright, or may license others in exchange for a fee or royalty.
What is a trademark?
A trademark is any name, logo, symbol, color, sound or phrase that
identifies a product or service as coming from a particular source of
origin. The owner of a trademark may stop others from using that
trademark (or a confusingly similar trademark) on similar or related
goods or services. The shape of a product, the decor of a store, and
other "tradedress" can also constitute a trademark.
What is a copyright?
A copyright gives the owner exclusive rights over an original work of
authorship: to reproduce or distribute copies of the work; to prepare
derivative works or adaptations based on the original; and to perform
or display the work in public. The copyright owner may exclude others
form engaging in any of these activities, subject to certain
exceptions such as limited "fair uses." Copyrights do not protect
ideas themselves, but the ways in which those ideas are expressed.
A "work of authorship" is the expression of an idea that is fixed in a
tangible medium that can be perceived, reproduced, or communicated.
Works protected by copyright include: literary, musical, and dramatic
works; pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works; pantomime and
choreographic works; motion pictures, sound recordings, computer
programs, and audiovisual works.
A copyright comes into being the moment the work is created and fixed
in a tangible medium. The copyright for a portion of a work completed
over time comes into being as that portion is created. Under current
law, copyright protection extends to many foreign countries.
While not required in all cases, it is still wise to place a copyright
notice on any published work. A copyright notice usually has three
parts: the symbol © (or the word Copyright or Copr.); the year-date of
first publication of the work; and the name of the copyright owner. An
example of a copyright notice would be: © 1991 John Doe."
?What is the difference between TM and the R within the circle ®?
Use of the TM and SM symbols may be governed by local, state, or
foreign laws and the laws of a pertinent jurisdiction to identify the
marks that a party claims rights to. The federal registration symbol,
the R enclosed within a circle, may be used once the mark is actually
registered in the USPTO. Even though an application is pending, the
registration symbol may not be used before the mark has actually
The federal registration symbol should only be used on goods or
services that are the subject of the federal trademark registration.?
Therefore, a company name and logo would be registered as trademarks.
The products would be copyrighted as soon as the products were
?In general, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from the
moment the work is created. You will have to register, however, if you
wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work.?
In the example you provide, the learning tools may consist of a number
of unique processes, in which case these could be patented.
For example, some word processor patents are:
"? A word processor that monitors the sequence of keys you type and
tries to teach you about new features. If it notices you doing a
particular sequence several times it will display information about a
simpler command sequence that may help you do what you want.
? Any word processor with a separate mode that the user selects when
they wish to type in a mathematical formula. [#5,122,953].
? A word processor that has a feature that allows you to specify that
a portion of the text should be shaded - such as may be useful when
revising a manual - by enclosing the relevant text within commands
that turn shading on and off. [#4,924,411].
? A word processor screen layout that simultaneously displays the
global page heading/footing and the contents of the current page, and
permits you to edit either. [#4,984,162].
? A word processor which marks and makes correction to a document
using two additional different colors. [#5,021,972]."
Useful Links :
U.S. Copyright office
United States Patent and Trademark Office
difference patent trademark copyright
I hope this answers your question, if you require any clarification,
please do not hesitate to ask.
Clarification of Answer by
03 Jun 2004 14:32 PDT
Before I respond to your clarification request, I would just like to
remind you of one of the Google Terms of Service point:
?Not Professional Advice. Information provided via the Services is not
intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric,
psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other
professional advice. If you submit a question or comment on such a
topic, we will assume you are interested in soliciting and receiving
or giving general information rather than professional advice. You
should bear in mind that the applicability of such general information
might vary substantially in different states and according to the
individual factual circumstances surrounding a particular question or
comment. Accordingly, if you desire or require professional advice,
please consult a qualified provider who is licensed in your state or
I think there is some confusion between register and trademark here.
You register a trademark (i.e. company name or logo) with the United
States Patent and trademark office. Once your name/logo is registered
you may use the ® symbol.
?Is registration of my mark required?
No. You can establish rights in a mark based on legitimate use of the
mark. However, owning a federal trademark registration on the
Principal Register provides several advantages, e.g.,
constructive notice to the public of the registrant's claim of
ownership of the mark;
a legal presumption of the registrant's ownership of the mark and the
registrant's exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in
connection with the goods and/or services listed in the registration;
the ability to bring an action concerning the mark in federal court;
the use of the U.S registration as a basis to obtain registration in
foreign countries; and
the ability to file the U.S. registration with the U.S. Customs
Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods.
When can I use the trademark symbols TM, SM and ®?
Any time you claim rights in a mark, you may use the "TM" (trademark)
or "SM" (service mark) designation to alert the public to your claim,
regardless of whether you have filed an application with the USPTO.
However, you may use the federal registration symbol "®" only after
the USPTO actually registers a mark, and not while an application is
pending. Also, you may use the registration symbol with the mark only
on or in connection with the goods and/or services listed in the
federal trademark registration.?
If each of the different products has a unique name/logo then you may
wish to trademark each product. For example, Microsoft (which is
itself a registered trademark) has registered Outlook and PowerPoint
as trademarks but Word, Excel and Access are not registered as
trademarks. However, all these products are copyrighted.
I hope the above makes sense. If you need any further clarification,
please do not hesitate to ask.