Find a Science & Technology Law Lawyer

Science and technology law covers a wide range of legal issues, including the commercialization of intellectual property, patents, the practice of technology transfer, copyright and trademark law.

The three main braches that are covered under science and technology law are patents, trademarks and copyrights. Lawyers that specialize in science and technology law have experience with legal issues in the following three areas, and can help you understand the differences between each.

Patent Law

Patents in the United States are governed by the Patent Act (35 U.S. Code), which established the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The most common type of patent is a utility patent. Utility patents have a duration of twenty years from the date of filing. Design patents protect ornamental designs.

To obtain protection under US law, you must submit a patent application to the USPTO, where it will be reviewed by an examiner to determine if the invention is patentable. US law grants to patentees the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention.

Trademark Law

Trademark law governs the use of a device, including a word, phrase, symbol, product shape, or logo) by a manufacturer or merchant to identify its goods and to distinguish those goods from those made or sold by another. Service marks, which are used on services rather than goods, are also governed by 'Trademark law.'

In the United States, certain common law trademark rights stem merely from the use of a mark. However, to obtain the greatest protection for a mark, it is almost always advisable to register the mark, either with the federal government, if possible, or with a state government. A mark which is registered with federal government should be marked with the symbol, while marks that are not registered are marked tm.

Copyright Law

Copyright law in the U.S. is governed by federal statute, namely the Copyright Act of 1976. The Copyright Act prevents the unauthorized copying of a work of authorship. However, only the copying of the work is prohibited--anyone may copy the ideas contained within a work.
Copyrights can be registered in the Copyright Office in the Library of Congress, but newly created works do not need to be registered. In fact, it is no longer necessary to even place a copyright notice on a work for it to be protected by copyright law. As soon as an original work is created, it is considered to be copyrighted material by law.

By Chris Saunders           

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