patent?copyright?trademark? or all?
i developed my own system of self defense years ago and it is in use. I gave it a name. What do I need to do to legally protect myself from others that would try to lay claim to it?
1 Answer from Attorneys
Re: patent?copyright?trademark? or all?
Yes, it's like belt and suspenders. In certain instances, subject matter can involve overlapping protection by patent, by trademark, and by copyright.
I take it that you have writings and drawings that teach the system. The author is automatically owner of a copyright in that work of authorship. It is very desirable to register the copyright by a filing with the U.S. Copyright Office in Washington, DC.
A unique name or logo used to identify the system could be a trademark, to identify products used with the system or to identify the services of teaching people to use the system. In the U.S., it is possible to gain trademark rights under the common law by using the trademark on goods or services, the more use the better. But it is typically more effective to register the trademark with a government agency. If nationwide protection is desired, one would file an application to register the trademark with the U.S. patent and trademark office in Alexandria, VA. One generally gets the help of an intellectual property attorney for that.
A patent protects manufactured articles, compositions of matter, machines, and methods that meet a three-part test of being new, useful and not obvious from the prior art. Whether a series of moves that provide self-defense would fit into that classification is an open question. To get advice on that, one should turn to a professional who has passed a test on patent practice given by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Such a practitioner is a patent agent or patent attorney.