First, let's take a look at the different type of intellectual property protections :: a Copyright, Trademark and Patent. Read this article written by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
This protects music, literature, articles, etc from being re-used without permission from the creator. (IE: The Beatles songs are all copyrighted).
This protects your business name, tag-line, product name, etc from being used by another company (and thereby causing marketplace confusion with the names). Note: It isn't necessary to Trademark your OWN name (IE: Emily Ley Paper) - you innately own the rights to that name because it includes your own personal name.
Patent ($500 - $1,500, sometimes more)
This protects items and products themselves. For instance, you might patent a fancy toothbrush, so no one else can create that toothbrush.
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Now, for most of you reading this, you're going to be most concerned with the Trademark process. I cant tell you how important it is to spend that $275. In fact, I made the process easier for me by contacting a representative from the USPTO to manage my applications. His name is Jack Briggs and he can be found here ::
- Research your name.
- Search the TESS System for similar marks.
- Hire a Trademark Manager (optional) and file your Trademark Application.
- Use the TM symbol.
- Wait . . .
- Publication for contesting in the Official Trademark Gazette.
- Conquer any roadblocks.