The chart below provides brief descriptions of attributes of various options for protection of intellectual property assets.
|Form of Protection||Utility Patent||Plant Patent||Design Patent||Copyright||Trademark or Service Mark||Trade Secret|
|What is Protected||Machine, process, composition of matter, new products||Asexually reproduced plant variety||Ornamental design for an article of manufacture||Writings, music, works of art||Words, names, symbols, devices||Any confidential information of commercial or personal value|
|Test for Protection||New, useful and unobvious||Distinct and new variety of plant||New, ornamental and unobvious||Originality||Distinguish and identify services or goods of one source from those of another||(1) Is it a secret and (2) does owner protect the secrecy|
|How are Rights Obtained||Grant of patent by U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (PTO)||Grant of patent by the PTO||Grant of patent by the PTO||Upon creation of work||(1) Through actual use, or (2) registration in PTO||By identifying and treating the information as confidential|
|Life of Protection||20 years from the filing date; enforceable from date of publication; periodic payment of maintenance fees is required||20 years from the filing date; enforceable from the date of issue||14 years from date of grant||Life of the author plus 70 years -or- 95 to 120 years for anonymous works||(1) Perpetual with proper use (2) 10 years, renewable if use continues||Indefinite while information remains confidential|
|Test of Infringement||Make, use or sell product or process covered by patent claims||Asexually reproduce or use the patented plant||Substantial similarity of design as a whole||Copy substantial portion of the work||Likelihood of confusion, mistake or deception as to origin of goods or service||Misappropriation|