So you’re a dreamer in South Carolina. Ideas come to you naturally, and you’re wondering how to protect them. Well, first things first. You can’t protect ideas themselves. You can only protect expressions of an idea. So to receive copyright protection, your original idea would have to be in a fixed form, such as a book, photograph or recorded song. The good news is that once you create an original work, you own the copyright. However, to better protect your work and prevent others from stealing it, you want to officially register it with the federal government.

Trademarks, on the other hand, have more to do with business than creativity. The idea behind a trademark is to prevent confusion between the goods and services of one brand to those of another, according to Copyright Alliance. Just by selling your products or services, you do have some rights. However, officially registering a business name, brand name, logo or slogan with the federal government gives you additional rights, including nationwide protection of your mark. A registered trademark can also help you stop others from selling goods and services with similar trademarks.

Patents are all about innovation. In order to get a US patent, you have to be the first one to apply for it. Being the first one to invent it doesn’t count. But if you aren’t quite ready, don’t worry. Filing a provisional application saves your place in line for up to one year and gives you the right to label your invention patent pending when you’re ready to register your copyright or trademark or file a patent.

This information is for educational purposes.