Intellectual Property - What's the differences?

What's the difference between a trademark, a patent, and a copyright?

A trademark typically protects brand names and logos used on goods and services.

A patent protects an invention.

A copyright protects an original artistic or literary work.

For example, if you invent a new kind of vacuum cleaner, you would apply for a patent to protect the invention itself. You would apply to register a trademark to protect the brand name of the vacuum cleaner. And you might register a copyright for the TV commercial that you use to market the product.

United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

Patent Search

The exclusive right granted by a government to the creator have a monopoly for a limited number of years to their invention.

Find patents here:

USPTO Public Patent Search

Google Patent Search


Trademarks identify specific products of a business to the general public.

USPTO Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS)

Assessing Awareness

USTPO - IP Awareness Tool

The IP Awareness Assessment, developed under the joint efforts of United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and National Institute of Standards and Technology/Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST/MEP), allows you to assess your intellectual property awareness.


Copyright is a form of protection based on the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.

Research Guide on Copyright


creative commons -  Share your work and find others who have shared their work.

Finding Legal Information

Macdonald-Kelce Library - The University of Tampa - 401 W. Kennedy Blvd. - Tampa, FL 33606 - 813 257-3056 - library@ut.edu - Accessibility