Columbia, SC asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for South Carolina

Q: I made a mouse pad with the 52 week challenge on it. Do I need to copyright or patent it?

2 Lawyer Answers
Jabari-Jason Tyson-Phipps
Jabari-Jason Tyson-Phipps
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • New York, NY

A: It depends: It can be both.

A copyright protects original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. This includes creative works like art, literature, and graphic designs. So for the design of the mousepad you may be able to file a copyright for those specific creative elements if the design on your mouse pad involves creative or artistic elements, such as unique graphics, illustrations, or text related to the 52-week challenge.

A patent protects inventions, processes, and certain types of designs. Utility patents cover new and useful inventions, while design patents protect the ornamental design of a functional item. If your mouse pad includes a unique and novel functional feature or design that serves a specific purpose (beyond mere aesthetics), you might consider exploring the possibility of a design patent.

Note copyrights and patents serve different purposes and that you automatically have a copyright upon creation. Registration with the U.S. Copyright Office provides additional benefits, such as the ability to sue for statutory damages not the copyright. Also note that it is significantly cheaper than a patent. Please also note this is not legal advice and only a high level overview. You should consult with a licensed attorney about your specific circumstances. If you would like I would be happy to help. Best of Luck. JJTP

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›

A: Based on your description, it sounds like you have created a unique design for a mouse pad that incorporates the concept of the 52-week challenge. In this case, you likely do not need a patent, but you may want to consider copyright protection for your specific design.

Here's why:

1. Copyright: Copyright protects original works of authorship, including artistic designs. If your mouse pad design is unique and original, you automatically have copyright protection over it as soon as it is created and fixed in a tangible form. However, registering your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office provides additional benefits, such as the ability to sue for infringement and the potential for statutory damages and attorney's fees if you win the lawsuit.

2. Patent: Patents protect inventions that are new, useful, and non-obvious. A mouse pad with a printed design would not typically qualify for a patent because it is unlikely to meet the criteria of being a new invention or having functional improvements over existing mouse pads.

3. Trademark: If you plan to sell your mouse pads and want to protect your brand name or logo, you might consider applying for a trademark. A trademark protects words, phrases, symbols, or designs that identify and distinguish the source of goods or services.

In summary, your mouse pad design is likely protected by copyright automatically, but you may want to consider registering your copyright for additional benefits. A patent is probably not necessary or applicable in this situation.

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