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How is a copyright different from a patent or trademark?

A copyright protects original expression with only a modest amount of creativity required.  A patent protects inventions or discoveries and requires that the idea or discovery be novel. Copyright’s requirement for originality, however, is different from a patent’s requirement of novelty.  Originality under copyright law only requires that the author have created the work himself or herself and that the author did not copy the work from another author.

Copyrights also are different from trademarks in that trademarks do not protect original expression.  Instead, trademarks protect words, phrases, symbols, or designs that identify the source of the goods or services for a consumer to distinguish one party’s product from another’s product. In limited circumstances, a certain design may be entitled to both copyright protection as creative expression under copyright law and trade-dress protection for certain identifying packaging under trademark law.

Please Note:McCabe Rabin, P.A. provides these FAQ’s for informational purposes only, and you should not interpret this information as legal
advice. If you want advice as to how the law might apply to the specific facts and circumstances of your case, please contact one of our attorneys.

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