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Penrose Library

Copyright & IP @ Whitman: Understanding Copyright & IP

TOOLS

Copyright Basics (United States Copyright Office)

Copyright (United State Copyright Office)

General Information Concerning Patents (United States Patent & Trademark Office)

General Definitions

Please refer to the Home section

COPYRIGHT

Copyright is a concept which promotes the development of creative ideas by granting creators a limited monopoly to their work.

Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution authorizes Congress to "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Rights to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

Copyright is secured immediately when an original work is created in a fixed or tangible form.  Under current law, a copyright notice is not required.

Works may be registered with the United States Copyright Office.  Doing so enables a copyright holder to sue for damages if infrigement occurs.

Works created after January 1, 1978 are protected by copyright for the life of the creator, plus 70 years.

Copyright protection for works created before January 1, 1978 varies.  Check the Public Domain tab for tools are available to help determine if a work has entered the public domain.

Most works created in the United States before 1923 are no longer protected by copyright.

Searching Copyright Information - works registered and documents recorded by the U.S. Copyright Office since January 1, 1978

Catalog of Copyright Entries - U.S. Copyright Office; listing of all received copyright registrations

The WATCH File: Writers, Artists and Their Copyright Holders

PATENTS

Patents and Trademarks are authorized by the same section of the Constitution that governs copyright.  Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution authorizes Congress to "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Rights to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

As outlined by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, the patent process involves:

  1. Determine the type of intellectual property protection you need
  2. Determine if your invention is patentable
  3. Determine the type of patent you need
  4. Get ready to apply
  5. Prepare and submit your initial application
  6. Work with your examiner
  7. Receive your approval
  8. Maintain your patent

Members of the Whitman community who wish to work with the College through the patent approval process should be in contact with the Office of the Provost and Dean of the Faculty.  Please consult the My Rights as a Creator tab for more information.

Utility Patent:

From the USPTO: "granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new or useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or compositions of matters, or any new useful improvement thereof."

  • Term = generally 20 years from date of filing
  • Maintenance fees required

Design Patent:

From the USPTO: "granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture."

  • Term = generally 14 years from date of issue
  • No maintenance fees required

Plant Patent:

From the USPTO: "granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant."

  • Term = generally 20 years from date of filing
  • No maintenance fees required

The US Patent & Trademark Office offers a number of webinars and tools to get you started.  See Search for Patents.

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