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Chapter 1. Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks—A Look Back

Chapter 1. Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks—A Look Back

Patents, trademarks, and copyrights have an extensive history dating as far back as 5,000 years ago when the Neolithic man marked cave walls to show that he owned the cave. These marks are the predecessor to today's trademarks. Inventors, authors, and others who develop ideas and inventions that have potential commercial value petitioned lawmakers over time to enact regulations that classified their ideas and inventions as assets. Those regulations are known as patents, trademarks, and copyrights.

The differences among patents, copyrights, and trademarks can be confusing. A patent grants an inventor sole rights to a new idea, new method, or new process. A copyright grants authors, musicians, and artists the exclusive rights to publish and sell literary, musical, or artistic works. Copyrights cover artistic, dramatic, musical, literary, and other scholarly works—both published and unpublished. A trademark is a word, phrase, slogan, design, or symbol that is used to identify merchandise and is used to distinguish merchandise from competing products. Trademarks indicate the source of a product (i.e., brand names).


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