Copyrights, Trademarks, and Patents

I love it when news like this gets the front page every now and then; it encourages people to look further into the story and its repercussions in their own goings-on. In the bloggers’ case, this means understanding what a copyright, a trademark, or a patent can do for your write-ups and original images, audio and video. Most people confuse one with the other, so I’ll take a shot at helping most of us who aren’t very legalese, and to those who’d rather not scour through pages-long entries from Wikipedia:

I’ll start with the easiest one – the copyright. A copyright is no more than a declaration of how you intend your work to be used. In most printed material, this is the statement that reads “not to be reproduced in print or electronically”. Most bloggers, however, opt for one of the Creative Commons License flavors that allow the work to be reproduced (there are differences from one Creative Commons flavor to another, such as whether the original work may be reproduced for profit on certain conditions) generally because the blog is intended to reach the widest audience. Associated symbol: ©

A trademark could be your blog’s icon, avatar, logo, catchphrase – basically anything you intend to associate with your blog that’s easily discernible. For example, Engadget’s iconic “e” with the RSS rays may be trademarked, but full-sized banner and its associated color scheme, typefaces, images may not –(there are some out there that have been willingly signed off by legal firms, although that’s another story altogether). Another thing about trademarks –while there are instances where similar trademarks might exist as long as they do not exist in the same industry and/or result to confusion, trademark holders for ubiquitous names such as “Apple” that extend beyond their respective industries and become household names may contest for a case; for example, the famous Apple computer and Apple Corps shared the same name and the apple (the fruit) logo. More information on that here. Associated symbol: ® ™

A patent is a claim to a new idea, invention, process. Most bloggers need not worry about patenting (unless you’d like to patent the algorithms in the blogging platform you wrote yourself, like my friend here), but I threw this one in here as most people get it confused with the trademark. Patents are mostly associated with intellectual property, and like trademarks, are acquired through accredited legal firms and are bound to the countries where they apply.

If case you’re interested in software, Originally posted on May 30, 2007 @ 4:58 am