The US Patent and Trademark Office provides protection for inventions, literary works, and commercial identifiers, such as logos and unique names. Technically, you don't have to register any of your works or inventions to be able to own them, or to defend your ownership in court. You own your work as soon as you create it. But registering your works and inventions with the USPTO increases the rights you can claim in court.

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The various forms of legal protection are known as copyrights, patents, and trademarks, and they are all considered subsets of intellectual property.

Why Register Copyrights?

A copyright protects written and artistic expressions that are captured in a tangible form. You have a copyright on your work as soon as you make it available, without any additional paperwork. But registering your work with the USPTO makes it part of the public record. The registration will make it easier to prove your ownership if someone does attempt to steal your work, and copyright registration is considered prima facie evidence of copyright ownership in law. You don’t need any other evidence to prove your ownership and support your claim.

Why Register Trademarks?

A trademark is a phrase, word, symbol, or design that identifies a business. Service marks are a subcategory of this group. Once your trademark is registered, you can keep other businesses from using the same trademark, or even ones that are very similar, with only a few exceptions.

Why Register Patents?

A patent protects inventions and ideas. Once you get a patent on your design or invention, you can prevent anyone from copying your patented work without your permission. You can also require compensation for wrongful use of your ideas. Patent protection is extended on a first-come, first-served basis—the first person to register a patent gets control of the invention. If someone stole your idea and patented it before you could, you can contest the patent in court, but it's a difficult case to win.

What’s the Legal Benefit of Registering my Intellectual Property?

All of these intellectual property forms provide added security for your ownership of your ideas. Not registering your work with the USPTO doesn't mean you have no rights. However, registration gives you more power to enforce your rights and protect your product, creation, or invention.

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