In The Trenches
the alphabet or individual words.
Common sense applies here. If
someone copies a chapter of your
book, you have a good case. If someone uses the same sentence, your
case isn't as good.
Copyrights were developed to
protect writers from outright theft of
their work. It basically says that you
cannot COPY someone else's work.
Note, it does NOT protect the information contained in the words.
obtain your secret, you can sue.
Here are several urban legends
that are associated with patents and
Trade Names and
Fallacy 1: I'll write a letter to
myself that contains my invention.
When it arrives, I won't open it, so
I'll have proof of when I thought
of it. This will give me patent
This is absolutely useless. A
patent is given according to the filing
date. It you don't file, you have no
Fallacy 3: The advertisement says
that the product is patented, so it
Patents only show originality, not
efficacy. I can get a patent for attaching magnets to house flies so that
when they land on a steel garbage
can, they can't fly away. The patent
examiner doesn't care if the invention
works or not; or if it's practical or not.
Only if it's new. A patent in no way
suggests that a product works as
A trademark is a unique indicator of a business. The US PTO confers trademark status for the US. It is
generally quite inexpensive to register a trademark, usually less than
$1,000.00. Of course, if you want to
register green double arches for your
fast-food restaurant, you may face an
Trademark protection was developed to prevent customer confusion.
For example, I couldn't trademark
green double arches for my fast-food
restaurant named McDougle's.
However, if my name was McDougle
and I was in the bridge building business, then I probably could trademark green double arches.
Obviously, a customer knows the
difference between a hamburger and
A classic example of this is
Apple Records and Apple Computer.
Everyone knows the difference
between a recording and a computer,
right? Except that Apple Computer is
now allowing music downloads. The
line between the companies is getting fuzzy. It is my understanding that
legal negotiations are underway.
Fallacy 2: I'll copyright my software. That way, I'll protect the
special method I've developed for
Wrong! All you are protecting is
the actual code, not the idea.
Someone else can take the procedure and simply use a different language.
Even the same language can be
used, if the code is changed enough
so that it looks different. (Didn't you
do the same thing in school?) If the
code is not actually copied, there is
Fallacy 4: I want to manufacture
my product, so I need a patent.
A patent only provides a legal
basis for a lawsuit if someone copies
your invention. It is not needed for
manufacturing or business.
Fallacy 5: If I don't patent my
invention, then someone else could
do so and prevent me from manufacturing it.
If you are already selling your
invention before your competitor
files, there should be no problem.
You may have to prove this in court.
In fact, in this case, if you inform the
PTO of this, the patent might be with-
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Sometimes, simply keeping
secrets is good protection. If you
have a method of manufacturing that
costs less, simply don't tell anyone.
Trade secret law might protect you,
although you have no guarantee. If
someone uses illegal methods to
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