How to Copyright an Invention
Looking to copyright your invention? If you are still in the idea phase and looking to protect an original form of authorship, you'll need a copyright. If you've created a prototype of your invention, you will need a patent, which grants property rights to the inventor. Both fall under intellectual property law, which concerns the protection of creative works.
As per the United States Copyright Office, copyrights do not protect "ideas, concepts, systems, or methods of doing something," but rather ideas expressed in written form. Such ideas may also come in the form of drawings. The copyright does not protect the idea itself, but however you can claim a copyright of the idea's description.
In order to officially claim a copyright, you must register your idea description with the U.S. Copyright Office. This means correctly filling out the copyright application and paying the necessary fees, as well as sending a copy of your description. As long as your idea has not been previously copyrighted, you will be in good shape.
A patent is often the better option concerning invention protection. As with copyrights, you will have to fill out an official form, this time with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, pay necessary fees, and send a detailed description of your product. You'll also need to perform a search of patented products through the office to ensure your idea is original - do this before you send your application!
Three options are available depending on what you're looking to patent. Plant patents are granted to "anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant." Design patents are granted to "anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture," and utility patents are given to "anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or compositions of matters, or any new useful improvement thereof."
The Waiting Game
Whether looking to obtain a copyright or a patent, the next step after filing is waiting. It takes an average of 22 months to receive a patent certificate, while copyrights take much less time. If filing electronically, it takes three to five months to receive your copyright certificate. If using paper forms, you'll wait an average of seven to 10 months.
Obtaining a copyright or a patent is a great way to protect your invention and get it ready for marketing. If necessary, work with an intellectual property lawyer to ensure you take all the right steps in the application process. Good luck!