Unexpected Capabilities. Unmatched Service.
trademarks copyrights and patents

Protect Your Company: Trademarks, Copyrights and Patents

You’ve come up with a brilliant new oven that will save hundreds on heating costs. You’ve written the Great American Novel. You just drew up a logo that will catch every customer’s eye.

That’s great! And for now, it’s yours.

But without the right legal protections, it might not be yours forever.

All of the above are examples of critical intellectual property that helps line the pockets of small businesses and individuals. But to ensure that your invention, art or branding actually lines your pocket, and not a competitor, you need to be familiar with various legal protections designed to defend this property: namely, trademarks, copyrights and patents.

Here’s what you need to know about all three.


Technical inventions are the backbone of many businesses. When you come up with some sort of process or machine that does what your competitors can’t do, that gives you an operational edge — an edge that you’d naturally like to keep away from everyone else in the industry.

That’s where patents come in. And as America’s largest companies show, patents are vital to their operations.

Consider this: In 2021 alone, Apple was assigned 2,791 patents, Intel 2,867, Microsoft 2,905 … and IBM was assigned a whopping 9,130, according to Statista.

So, what do they do?

Parents protect “technical inventions, such as chemical compositions like pharmaceutical drugs, mechanical processes like complex machinery, or machine designs that are new, unique, and usable in some type of industry,” according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

That protection keeps other parties from, say, copying your designs, re-creating your invention to the same specifications, and using your invention without your consent.

If you’re interested in applying for a patent, you’ll want to talk to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.


Of course, some people build computers, while others create art.

If you’re in the latter camp, you’ll probably care more about copyrights.

The USPTO says copyrights protect “artistic, literary, or intellectually created works, such as novels, music, movies, software code, photographs, and paintings that are original and exist in a tangible medium, such as paper, canvas, film, or digital format.”

Copyrights offer similar protection as patents. If someone wants to play your music on the radio, reproduce your painting or perform your play … well, they can, as long as they have your permission. (Which you can, of course, charge them for.)

For these, you’ll be going to the USPTO’s close relative, the U.S. Copyright Office.


Last up are trademarks. Unlike patents and copyrights, which protect the product, service or creation you’d likely be selling, you could say that trademarks are more so meant to protect the marketing.

A trademark is “a word, phrase, design, or a combination that identifies your goods or services, distinguishes them from the goods or services of others, and indicates the source of your goods or services,” says the USPTO. So your brand name? That’s something you’d trademark. The names of your products? You’d trademark those, too. Apple Inc. has protections not just on its company name (“Apple”) but its products too (“iPhone”) so no one can go out and create a similar product and call it an Apple iPhone.

But while what a trademark protects is different than a patent or copyright, the type of protection is similar. No one can use your trademark without your permission, and no one who sells something similar can use a similar trademark.

And like patents, trademarks are a job for the USPTO.

Protect What’s Important to Your Business

Are you wondering what aspects of your business need legal protection? We can help you out with that — and many other corporate concerns.

McManamon & Co. provides a wide range of business consulting services that help small and midsize businesses with everything from strategic planning to cash flow strategies, and we can help you determine whether you’re in need of patents, trademarks, copyrights or other legal protection.

Reach out to us at 440.892.8900 or contact us online today.

Tags:  , , , | Posted in Consulting, McManamon & Co., small business