Intellectual Property Rights Guide

Trademarks, Patents and Copyrights

If you have ever wondered what the difference is between a trademark and a trade secret, you are not alone. Most of the terms used to describe different types of intellectual property (IP) are commonly thrown around interchangeably. However, to protect the IP rights of your company, it is important to take a moment to review the basics of trademark, patent, copyright and trade secret law we have compiled below.

Intellectual Property Rights Guide

About this product:

All businesses have tangible assets: buildings, machines, and accounts receivable. Companies have intangible assets too: trademarks, patents, copyrights, reputation, and goodwill. SEMA places a high premium on the protection of trademarks, patents, and copyrights, also known as intellectual property (IP). Through this guide, we will describe these types of IP, the benefits of getting a mark or patent registered with the appropriate federal authorities, the application process, and the benefits of registration.

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obtaining a copyright, a publisher, author, artist and/or composer
gains exclusive rights to their production of original, expressive
information (an artistic or literary work) for a limited time.

1. What is a copyright?

 The subject matter of copyright includes any original "work of authorship" "fixed in any tangible medium of expression."

 o An author is the creator of the original work.

Examples of Design Patents

design patent is heavily dependent upon the drawings to communicate the
features sought to be protected (as opposed to utility patents which
rely on the written word to describe how the good is new and unique). 
The focus of the design patent is on the ornamental design of an
article, namely, the visual characteristics or aspects of an object. 
The filing fee for a design patent starts at $390.00, plus legal fees. 
Here are a few examples:

Automobile Hood, SLP Performance Parts, Inc.  [Design Patent No. D418,465]


Patents stimulate private investment in new, useful and non-obvious technological information (inventions) through the granting of exclusive property rights to the patent holder. 

1. What is a patent?

 The subject matter of patent is the invention or discovery of any new and useful process, machine, manufacture or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement of a previously existing process, machine, manufacture or composition of matter.  Patents may also protect ornamental features (designs) rather than the function of articles.

Examples of Trademarks

· Words:  Ford's "MUSTANG" for automobiles  [U.S. Reg. No. 1467208];

GM’s “IMPALA” for automobiles  [U.S. Reg. No. 0661322].

· Designs:  American Racing Equipment’s design for the Torq Thrust wheel
[U.S. Reg. No. 2805037]

· Designs: Chrysler's "Pentastar" design for automobiles
[U.S. Reg. No. 0801717]


trademark is a name, logo or other feature used by a company to
identify itself as the source of a product or service.  If established
properly, trademarks can be a means to establish legal rights
prohibiting competitors from using the same distinguishing features and

1. What is a trademark?

 Trademarks have a common meaning to many people but they also have
a more legalistic meaning which is helpful in understanding trademark
rights.  A trademark is:


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