Copyrights exist in an idea of an article of manufacture. Before a copyright can be enforced in court, it must be registered. No inherent patenting rights exist merely by the creation of an object. The patent must be actively sought or the potential rights to the patent are lost after a period of time. The patent rights to exclude do not exist until the patent is issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. There are certain other legal advantages to having a design patent on something compared with having the copyright. For one thing, if someone independently without ever seeing the article, comes up with the same design, it would not be an infringement of the copyright since there was no copying. However, the design patent would be infringed anyway. The disadvantage is that a design patent is only good for 14 years.Back to FAQs
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