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Kauffman Foundation - Market Research: Copyright-Trademark-Patent

This guide, created for the Kauffman Foundation's FastTrac New Venture program at Grace College & Seminary, highlights resources freely available to the attendees.


Copyright, Trademark, or Patent?

trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.  A service mark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods. The term “trademark” is often used to refer to both trademarks and service marks.

Must all marks be registered?  No, but federal registration has several advantages, including a notice to the public of the registrant's claim of ownership of the mark, a legal presumption of ownership nationwide, and the exclusive right to use the mark on or in connection with the goods or services set forth in the registration.  

patent is a limited duration property right relating to an invention, granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in exchange for public disclosure of the invention.

A copyright protects works of authorship, such as writings, music, and works of art that have been tangibly expressed.


Definition:  An authored work in a fixed format
What Can be Copyrighted?
  • literary works, including computer programs and other "compilations"
  • ‚Äčmusical works, including lyrics
  • choreographic works, in a fixed format 
  • pictorial works (includes maps and architectural plans), graphics, sculpture
  • movies and other audiovisual works
  • sound recordings                


"A trademark includes any word, name, symbol, or design, or any combination used, or intended to be used, in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from goods manufactured or sold by othrs, and to indicate the source of the goods.  In short a trademark is a brand name."