In developing a IP strategy, some inventors wonder if a copyright is just as effective as getting a patent. Its an appealing option since copyrights are less expensive and easier to obtain than patents. However, the protection copyrights are less expensive and easier to obtain than patents. Usually, there isn’t a choice at all that IP itself determines the type of IP protection that is necessary.

What can be copyrighted?

The U.S. Copyright Office says that a copyright protects “original work of authorship fixed in tangible medium of expression”. In simpler language, a copyright is meant to be used for work of art, literature, or music. This can include poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture.

What can be patented?

A product or process that provides a new way of doing something or offer a new technical solution to a problem is eligible for patent filing. Specifically, an invention must meet the following three condition.

  • Novelty: At least some aspect of it must be new.
  • Inventive step: The new aspect must not be obvious or easily deducted
  • Industrial applicability: The invention must be able to made or used in an industry.

You can copyright or patent mere idea

Both forms of intellectual property protection must require something more concrete.

  • For a copyright, the object has to fix in a tangible medium of expressions like painting, book, song or software.
  • For a patent, the idea must be fully formed into an invention, if not in a prototype form, at least in the detailed rendering of how the invention can be made.

3 Types of patents

According to U.S Patent and Trademark Office, there are three kind of things for which you can file a patent.

  • Utility Patent: may be granted to anyone who invents or discover any new and useful process, the machine or article of manufacture or composition of , matter or any useful and new improvement thereof.
  • Design Patents: may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.
  • Plant Patent: May be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plants.

Copyright or Design Patent

The option of design patent can cause some confusion for those trying to figure out, whether to copyright or patent a design they have created. Ask by your own:

  • Is the design physically ornamental or does it represent functional change? If yes then you may want to submit a design patent application.
  • Is it a depiction? say a painting, drawing, photograph, sculpture, or architectural design? If so you probably want a copyright.

How to obtain a Copyright Protection?

Copyright Protection applies automatically from moment a work of art and literature or music is created,there is nothing you have to do to copyright a work. However if you want to protect your ownership at the court, your copyright should be registered with the U.S Copyright office. The basic registration fees vary from $30-85. The processing time ranges from 6-8 months for electronic copyright application for 8-10 months for those submitted in paper.

How to obtain Patent Protection ?

To patent an invention in U.S., you must file a patent application with USPTO. A new U.S patent lasts for 20 years from the application date, and the process of acquiring a patent currently takes a little over 25 months. Fee structure would depend on what kind of patent you are seeking. In 2013, the USPTO moved from “first to invent” to “first to file” system, where patent ownership is heavily weighted towards whoever has filed the application for a contested invention. Patenting an invention worldwide requires high quality outside counsel, foreign agents, or a foreign patent filing service with comprehensive understanding of each country’s patent laws.

Devising your patent strategy

To optimally protect your IP, you may find that you need a copyright or patents. For example, if you write a detailed description of something you have invented, you can copyright the description and patent the invention. Filing for either does not disqualify you from applying for the other. A copyright is not an inexpensive patent,