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

They’re all potentially valuable types of intellectual property (or intangible assets), but there are important differences between them.

A trademark is a word, phrase, slogan, design, or symbol (such as a logo) that identifies the source of the goods or services relating to it. Some of the most valuable companies in the United States are known mostly by their trademarks – Facebook, Nike, Apple, Google, Starbucks, and the list goes on.

A copyright, on the other hand, protects literary, artistic, musical, dramatic, and other intellectual works, including software code. Think of your favorite movies, songs, and books, for example. They’re all protected by copyright law.

And patents protect inventions. Pfizer owns a trademark on the name Pfizer, a copyright on any of its own literary materials relating to the company and its products, and patents on the invention of new drugs, therapeutics, and vaccines.

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