Selling unique content in your eCommerce store is one of the best ways to create a brand for your business. However, one of the challenges that you will run into is fighting off copycats. You will have a number of legal options available to you to protect your ownership. Most of the time though, you will only be able to claim one. Here are the basic legal theories that offer protection for unique products you might offer. The three primary forms that eCommerce store products fall into are copyright, utility patents and design patents.
Copyright offers protection for artistic expression. It is created as soon as the item is created. The key is to remember that it applies to the way that it is presented or expressed. Most of the time, this applies to writing, sculpting, painting, and so on. Copyright protection attaches automatically, but you can gain additional protection by filing with the U.S. Copyright Office. It costs $35 if you do it online. The copyright lasts for your full lifetime and then another 70 years.
Utility patents are considered some of the most valuable patents out there. You would go for this when you have come up with something that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office describes as “unobvious” and “novel.” In other words, no one has thought of it before. Entrepreneur.com describes this as being something like a new method for folding a chair. It’s debatable whether a software program like the best POS software would fall into this category or copyright. Getting software protected under a utility patent is extremely difficult. Copyright is the easier option. The other downside is that utility patents are the most expensive. They cost anywhere from $7,000 and $10,000. The protection lasts for 20 years, but remember that it can take anywhere from three to seven years to get the patent through the legal system. During this time, you can legally use the phrase “patent pending.”
Design patents are some of the most common for eCommerce stores. These are applied to anything that relates to the design or look of a particular product. It still has to meet the “unobvious” and “novel” requirement of the utility patent. Surprisingly, they are also one of the least used patents. Despite the fact that they take a mere 12 to 18 months for completion, most businesses don’t even consider them. However, they are quite strong. Apple used it to box Samsung out of the market with its various products. Filing for one costs $2,500 to $3,500. They last for 14 years.
When you are trying to protect the unique products that you have, you will need to make sure that you follow the proper legal theory of protection. The three most common for eCommerce store products are copyright, utility patents and design patents. These all offer various types of protections. Copyright is the fastest and least expensive whereas utility patents are the most expensive and last the slowest.