Updated November 18, 2020:

A greeting card patent can be used to protect your intellectual property and prevent others from using your originally designed cards without your permission. It's a good way to shield your artwork, poetry, or other designs.

Copyrighting a Homemade Greeting Card

Few things are as satisfying as creating an original greeting card with your own two hands. Even something as simple as a homemade greeting card can be considered intellectual property. If you want to protect this intellectual property, you're going to need to copyright your greeting cards. This may sound like a complex legal process with a lot of complicated steps, but it's actually something that can be done pretty easily from the comfort of your own home in just a few minutes.

First, save the greeting card as an image on your computer. If you didn't create the card on your computer, scan the card. Make sure you scan everything, including:

  • The front
  • The back
  • The inside

Most people scan the front and back as a single page and the inside as a single page. Next, you'll need to open a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word, and paste the images into a single file to create a record of your intellectual property. Once you've done this, save the document as one of the following file types:

  • DOC
  • DOCX
  • PDF
  • TXT

Make sure your entire greeting card is saved in a single file, otherwise, you may end up having to pay extra filing fees with the Copyright Office. They might consider each file a separate project, leading to increased costs.

To begin the process of copyrighting your greeting card, visit the official Copyright Office website. You'll need to create a new portal account by providing the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Your phone number
  • Your address

Once you've registered for an account, you can click on the "Register a New Claim" link located on your dashboard to complete a copyright application. During the application, you'll be asked for important information such as:

  • The author's name (this is usually you)
  • The date you created the card
  • The type of work (i.e. literary, sound recording, visual artwork, etc.)

You'll only be able to select one category. Since you've created a greeting card, you probably used a combination of visual artwork and literary work. To make things easy, just select the one that is most predominant on the card you're copyrighting.

Basics of a Patent

A patent is a set of rights that are granted to the original creator or inventor of an item, innovation, or creative work by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO for short. In the United States, patents normally last for 20 years beginning on the date that the patent application was filed with the USPTO. In certain scenarios, this time may begin at an earlier time and may be subject to certain fees before it becomes effective. Patents granted in the United States are only effective in:

  • The United States
  • United States territories
  • United States possessions

Term adjustments and extensions can be given on patents only under very specific circumstances. It's worth noting that patents do not grant the holder with rights to:

  • Make something
  • Use something
  • Sell something
  • Import something

Instead, the patent provides the holder with the right to prevent others from doing these things with the patented item. Once a patent has been granted, it is the patent holder's responsibility to enforce it. The United States Patent and Trademark Office is unable to help with this.

Three types of patents exist:

  • Utility patents
  • Design patents
  • Plant patents

Utility patents are granted when somebody discovers or invents a new and particularly useful:

  • Operational process
  • Machine or device
  • Article of manufacture
  • Composition of matter
  • Innovation or improvement on an already existing item that can be classified as one of the above

Design patents are granted when somebody creates an original, ornamental design that can be applied to an article of manufacture and that hasn't already been created by somebody else. Plant patents are granted when somebody discovers or creates a new type of plant and is able to reproduce it asexually.

If you need help with a greeting card patent, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.