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The Freeware Hall Of Fame
Presents:

Some Useful Legal Definitions
Copyright - Trademark - Service Mark - Patent

Ever wonder what the difference is between a
Trademark - ™
Service Mark - SM
Copyright - © (& Copyleft)
Patent

Wonder no longer...

If necessity is the mother of invention, greed is the father of patent - Rey Barry

How to code symbols in HTML:
® is ®
© is © or ©
™ is ™ or ™
SM above is <font size="-2"> <sup> SM </sup> </font>
SM below, substitute SUB for SUP

Copyright

-- A Copyright protects original artistic work of any kind: books, labels, technical information, music, recordings, bulletins, poetry, cartoons, sculpture, photographs, plays. Notice that "idea" is not there. An idea cannot be copyrighted.

A Copyright gives the author and no one else the right to make copies of the work and to license others to copy.

How do you get a Copyright? Under current law Copyright automatically adheres to any original creation . This page, for example. The author has a Copyright whether he says it or not, whether he registers it with the Copyright Office or not.

Claiming a Copyright and registering it with the Copyright Office are useful enforcement tools to show the author's intent to protect his work and to record the date and details of Copyright.

Any original message written to a newsgroup or chatboard or posted anywhere on the net bestows a Copyright on its creator. You could write the Great American Novel on the web, or the great American email, and your work is automatically protected. No one else has a right to claim it as his or sell it. To enforce that you would have to prove it's yours, which is where Registering a Copyright comes in.

Down below you'll find this entire page is placed in the Public Domain, meaning I stake no claim to ownership. Placing things in the Public Domain that you write yourself puts the world on notice you do not intend to enforce Copyright. The definitions contained here can't be copyrighted by me or anyone else since they're not original. The specific wording of this page could be protected if I cared to.

Legalistic quirk: under current law things placed in PD can later be "removed" from PD and copyrighted by the author!

A recent offshoot of copyright is Copyleft. This means the material is free for use so long as no one charges others for it. While not a defined term under copyright law it is nonetheless legal and enforceable, since the holder of a copyright has the right to control how his product is used.

Computer programs issued as Freeware are often Copyrighted and thereby become Copyleft. The author's Copyright gives him the right to charge for use, and to licence, but he agrees not to charge. If he requires a license, and some do, it's free. The Freeware Hall of Fame specializes in this software.

For a fuller discussion of Copyright, see Brad Templeton's "10 Big Myths of Copyright Explained." Brad is board chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and his page is an excellent quick read.

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Trademark

-- A word, name, symbol, or device used individually or in combination by a company to identify its products and to distinguish its products from those of others. A Trademark identifies the producer to the public. It is normally applied to the product and used in literature.

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Service Mark

-- A Service Mark provides a service industry with the same identification as a Trademark does for a producer. The terms Service Mark and Trademark may be used interchangeably. This web site and its dial-up Bulletin Board (now closed) has a Service Mark on its name, the Freeware Hall of Fame. The SM means others cannot open another web site or BBS with our name, or run anything named Freeware Hall of Fame.

That didn't matter until we published a book, reviewers gushed over it, and we were named one of the top 25 Bulletin Boards in the country. Suddenly, even though we were a free Board, it mattered enough to spend $750 for a Service Mark. Now its even more important due to the popularity of this web site.

Trademarks and Service Marks are commonly associated with money, but money plays no part in their definition.

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Patent

-- A Patent is exclusive ownership of an invention and gives the owner the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling a device or process. A Utility Patent covers a new process, machine, or manufactured article. Design Patents cover ornamentation. A Plant Patent covers new varieties of hybrid cultivation.

Recently someone here built a golf club with a cone-shaped head. His studies showed it reduced downswing drag and uneven air pressures and allowed straighter, longer golf shots. He was granted a Utility Patent for the invention. There's nothing new about a golf club and nothing new about the shape of a cone, but combining them was patentable.

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This Bulletin is placed in the Public Domain by Rey Barry.
It may be freely copied and used.

To return to the FreeHOF Home Page click here
The name Freeware Hall of Fame is Service Marked by Rey Barry (rey at cstone.net)
All rights (except this Legal Definitions page) reserved
Page updated March 31, 2014