If The Trade Press Can't Get This Right… Copyright And Patents Are Different

from the come-on,-guys dept

It’s understandable that not everyone gets the difference between various types of intellectual property. It’s pretty common to see people confuse copyrights, patents and trademarks. However, you don’t expect to see it in a technology trade publication where both the writer and the editor should obviously know better. However, PCWorld has a story up about Sony’s ongoing patent lawsuit with haptics firm Immersion. However, throughout the article (and even in the headline), it’s referred to as a “copyright” dispute. The article even specifically says: “Immersion sued Microsoft and Sony for violating its copyright on handheld game controls.” There are plenty of important issues to be discussed concerning intellectual property and how it impacts innovation and the technology world. Having respected news sources confusing matters by making such simple mistakes doesn’t help.

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Comments on “If The Trade Press Can't Get This Right… Copyright And Patents Are Different”

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Anonymous Coward #2 says:

I wasn’t aware that Mike needed to offer a dictionary with every article…

“A copyright is a set of exclusive rights granted by government for a limited time to protect the particular form, way or manner in which an idea or information is expressed. Copyright may subsist in a wide range of creative or artistics forms or “works”, including literary works, movies, musical works, sound recordings, paintings, photographs, software, and industrial designs. Copyright is a type of intellectual property. ”

“A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a government to a person for a fixed period of time in exchange for the regulated, public disclosure of certain details of an invention. The person applying for a patent does not need to be the inventor who created or authored the invention. ”

And for good measure:

“A trademark (Commonwealth English: trade mark) is a distinctive sign of some kind which is used by a business to identify itself and its products or services to consumers, and to set the business and its products or services apart from those of other businesses. A trademark is a type of intellectual property, and in particular, a type of industrial property.”

source: Wikipedia

Mike Brown (user link) says:

Re: Patents

One problem in using wikipedia as a resource is you’re never quite sure who wrote the entries – in this case, I’d say it was almost certainly not someone familiar with US patent and copyright law. The law in the USA is a bit different.

“Copyright may subsist in … industrial designs”

In the US, industrial designs (that is, designs for useful objects) are protected by design patent, not copyright.

“The person applying for a patent does not need to be the inventor who created or authored the invention. ”

That is true in most countries, but not in the US. In the US, the person applying for a patent does, in fact, have to be the inventor (or inventors).

The “limited time” for copyrights in the US is the author’s life plus 70 years (for corporate or anonymous works, 95 years from publication, or 120 years from creation, whichever ends first.) For patents, it’s 20 years from the date of application (of the oldest application in a chain of parentage, if the patent is based on an earlier application).

The “exclusive rights” differ, as well – for copyright, the owner has the exclusive right to copy, publicly display, perform or distribute the work. The rights granted by a patent are the right to stop others from making, using or selling the invention as defined in the claims of the patent.

I could go on, but better to refer to our website, which has lots more information on copyrights, patents and trademarks.

Wizard Prang (user link) says:

Here are my wild-guess rules of thumb...

Inventions (mechanisms and means to do things) are Patented

Creations (things that are designed or written) are Copyrighted

Devices (logos, slogans etc) that are used to distinguish your business from the competition are Trademarks

Of course, going by the above rules, much of so-called “Intellectual Property” is copyrightable, but not patentable… but that’s a whole ‘nother discussion.

Zeroth404 says:

“One problem in using wikipedia as a resource is you’re never quite sure who wrote the entries”

and the same is true even if you knwo who wrote a history book. Things get changed and twisted and lied about, there is no solution for that.

“For starters, I suggest to stop reading Wikipedia altogether…

It may ruin your life if you take some of Wikipedia articles seriously :-)”

Everything I’ve read about what I already know is as accurate as can be, and if its not, I change it.

Sure, some people like to ruin articles, but there are backups — and generally everything is at least 90% accurate. if its not, its generally very obvious slander.

Anonymous Coward says:

Still, 90% isnt as good as 100%… especially when it comes to facts.

And just like you wrote, “Everything I’ve read about what I already know is as accurate as can be, and if its not, I change it.”… How can I trust that your 90% isnt actually just 75% to one person and 45% to another.

THAT is the problem with wiki – you just dont know for 100%.

Crwydryn says:

Re: Re: Wikipedia

Encyclopedias? hah! White papers? hah!

Press releases!

The real value that Wikipedia offers is that anyone can look at the change history and the discussion. They can be extremely enlightening as to the value and accuracy of the information, and, especially for controversial subjects, the non-neutral points of view. How many print encyclopedias will let you see the editorial discussions and the process of separating opinion from fact?

Also, with Wikipedia, a print encyclopedia, or other reference, check the “see also’s”. Do they all agree? Where Wikipedia is evolving so quickly, there will be differences in things like spellings, and even some facts. But any disagreements between articles is a good indicator that you should perhaps research that area more in-depth.

No, Wikipedia isn’t completely trustworthy or authoritative. And you should read everything on it with some skepticism. But that is true of anything except, perhaps, fortune cookies (which are always accurate). I think it is easier to remember to be skeptical when reading something online vs. print. Oddly, I think that is a strength as well.

Also, is the information “close enough”? The above excerpt successfully explained the differences. There may have been inaccuracies, but they weren’t really relevant to the topic. As a simpler example, say I can’t remember if it is slander or libel that applies to speech. Now, I could go search through mySpace and get god knows what kinds of answers, or I could go to Wikipedia, and immediately find the answer. Or I could go read through the law books. Wikipedia is close enough.

Terribly off-topic, but had the journalist bothered to check Wikipedia or even a dictionary they’d know the difference.

Anonymous Coward says:

…100% is probably NOT some place where if “average joe” doesn’t agree with someone written, they are able to change it.

“Everything I’ve read about what I already know is as accurate as can be, and if its not, I change it.“… such as wikipedea and their NON guarantee of fact-checking vs people malicious intent to mess with the posted information.

Zeroth404 says:

“THAT is the problem with wiki – you just dont know for 100%.”

it sure as hell beats an Encyclopedia — Wikipedia is free, and I don’t even have to leave my chair!

Wikipedia is accurate enough to do serious research. Look up the Gurana Plant — who’s going to lie about something like that? seriously, the only articles that could contain bogus material are the obvious ones — George Bush, Terrorism, Microsoft.

Wikipedia is a place to go for information, but if you fear that information, its still a place to go for little-known information.

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