Small Business Tips - Property Protection Options

You may want intellectual property protection options, particularly if your product or concept is innovative. The options are as follows:

  1. Trademarks – A brand name (including any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination thereof) that distinguishes your goods and services from others. You are not required to federally register your trademark, but it protects your ownership of the mark nationwide.

  2. Copyrights – Available to both published and unpublished works, copyright protects authors of “original works of authorship,” which are usually literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic in nature.

  3. Patents – Patents are granted to the inventor and/or discoverer of a new and useful process, machine, or product, which gives the owner a monopoly of the invention with the right to forbid others to make, use, sell, or offer the invention for about 20 years.

The US Patent & Trademark Office is located at http://www.uspto.gov and the Montana Technology Innovation Partnership (MTIP) offers resources for protecting intellectual property, at http://www.mtip.mt.gov.