Intellectual property (IP) law provides valuable legal protection for creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary works, and designs. If you are based in Chicago and considering seeking counsel to understand and pursue intellectual property rights, it is important to understand the process of getting started. This article explains how to begin, including the types of protection available, steps for filing an application, and how to find experienced and affordable legal counsel.

What Types of Protection Are Available?

When it comes to protecting intangible creations of the mind, there are several different options available. Patents apply to inventions, granting inventors exclusive use and the right to stop others from infringing on their rights. Copyrights protect original literary works, and include such things as books, song lyrics, screenplays, blog posts, and the like. Trademarks help distinguish businesses and their goods and services from those of other companies, and could include nearly anything from a logo or phrase to a unique shape or scent.

How to File a Patent Application

If you have an invention, you can apply for a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). First, you’ll need to conduct a patent search to determine if your invention has been done or described before. If not, the next step would be to draft and file a patent application. The USPTO provides several different types of patent applications, which vary based on the invention’s scope and whether or not it’s been publicly disclosed.

Once the application is finalized, submit it to the USPTO to review. The application will go through a lengthy process where patent examiners conduct their own searches, analyse the application’s merits, and potentially make adjustments to the patent coverage. Once accepted, a patent will last up to 20 years for utility and design patents.

How to File a Copyright Registration

In order to apply for copyright protection, you can file a registration application with the US Copyright Office. In most cases, works are automatically protected under copyright laws at the time of creation. However, official registration does provide additional benefits and protection, including the ability to sue for copyright infringement.

Before submitting a copyright registration application, determine whether your work is eligible. Most works, such as books, blog posts, recordings, photographs, and software, can typically be registered. Your work must be an original creation that is fixed or stored, such as in a physical or digital format. After that, you’ll need to fill out the applicable form, pay the fee, and submit the application with a copy of your work.

How to File a Trademark Application

When you want to protect a unique phrase, logo, or graphic associated with your business, you can apply for a trademark. First, you must determine if the mark is eligible for registration by checking the USPTO’s trademark database.

From there, you’ll need to complete the required forms and documents. If you already have a name and logo for your business, you can submit a standard trademark application and include a copy of your logo. If the mark is in an early stage of development, you can submit an Intent-to-Use application instead.

After submitting your application, you’ll need to wait for approval from the USPTO. Once approved, maintenance fees must be paid periodically. A trademark registration typically lasts for 10 years.

Finding an Intellectual Property Attorney

When it comes to protecting your intellectual property, it is wise to work with an experienced attorney. Look for a lawyer who specializes in IP law and who is experienced in filing and prosecuting cases in the Chicago area.

Using a service like UpCounsel can provide access to experienced attorneys who can help with patents, copyrights, and trademarks at a fraction of the cost of a traditional law firm. The UpCounsel platform gives you access to high-quality IP attorneys on-demand, with an average of 14 years of experience. You can easily view attorney profiles to find the right one for your needs, read reviews from their clients, and get started quickly.


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