Intellectual Property Rights Guide

Trademarks, Patents and Copyrights

If you have ever wondered what the difference is between a trademark and a trade secret, you are not alone. Most of the terms used to describe different types of intellectual property (IP) are commonly thrown around interchangeably. However, to protect the IP rights of your company, it is important to take a moment to review the basics of trademark, patent, copyright and trade secret law we have compiled below.


obtaining a copyright, a publisher, author, artist and/or composer
gains exclusive rights to their production of original, expressive
information (an artistic or literary work) for a limited time.

1. What is a copyright?

 The subject matter of copyright includes any original "work of authorship" "fixed in any tangible medium of expression."

 o An author is the creator of the original work.

Examples of Design Patents

design patent is heavily dependent upon the drawings to communicate the
features sought to be protected (as opposed to utility patents which
rely on the written word to describe how the good is new and unique). 
The focus of the design patent is on the ornamental design of an
article, namely, the visual characteristics or aspects of an object. 
The filing fee for a design patent starts at $390.00, plus legal fees. 
Here are a few examples:

Automobile Hood, SLP Performance Parts, Inc.  [Design Patent No. D418,465]

Examples of Trademarks

· Words:  Ford's "MUSTANG" for automobiles  [U.S. Reg. No. 1467208];

GM’s “IMPALA” for automobiles  [U.S. Reg. No. 0661322].

· Designs:  American Racing Equipment’s design for the Torq Thrust wheel
[U.S. Reg. No. 2805037]

· Designs: Chrysler's "Pentastar" design for automobiles
[U.S. Reg. No. 0801717]


trademark is a name, logo or other feature used by a company to
identify itself as the source of a product or service.  If established
properly, trademarks can be a means to establish legal rights
prohibiting competitors from using the same distinguishing features and

1. What is a trademark?

 Trademarks have a common meaning to many people but they also have
a more legalistic meaning which is helpful in understanding trademark
rights.  A trademark is:

Intellectual Property Rights Guide

SEMA is pleased to provide our members with the following information about trademarks, patents and copyrights.  The ideas, names, logos and inventions of your company are valuable property and often can be legally protected for your exclusive use.  The overview materials (below) will familiarize you with the basics on this topic so that you may take advantage of the law on patents, trademarks and copyrights.

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