Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks

Protecting your work can be achieved through trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights, and patents. This page will help you determine the right type of protection for your needs and provide information on where to register it.


What is a trademark?

A trademark is a word, name, or symbol that uniquely identifies your goods or services, setting them apart from those offered by others. It signifies the origin of the product and, through advertising, serves as a quality assurance for items bearing the mark. Holding a trademark grants the owner the exclusive right to prevent others from using a similar mark for the same goods or services. It is important to distinguish between a trademark, which identifies a product or service, and a trade name, which identifies the business itself.

It’s important to note that a trademark identifies a product or service, while a trade name identifies the business.

What do I do if someone is using my trademark?

A trademark does not prevent new businesses from registering the same name with the Secretary of State; the business owner must take private legal action to enforce their rights to the registered trade name.

Trademark Registration Requirements in Colorado and Federally

In Colorado, trademark registration requires prior use in your business. Federally, you can file based on a good faith intention to use the mark, but additional paperwork and fees are necessary once the mark is actively used.

Renewal Requirements for Colorado Trademarks

Trademarks registered in Colorado are initially valid for ten years and can be renewed for another ten-year period if the goods and services are continuously in use. Federally registered trademarks also have a ten-year validity. Between the fifth and sixth year of federal registration, an “affidavit of use” must be filed to confirm ongoing use in commerce. Additionally, every ten years, an “affidavit of renewal” can be filed to maintain federal trademark registration.

Where Do You Register A Trademark?

If your trademark is used in Colorado, it can be registered with the Colorado Secretary of State. For marks intended for use in multiple states, registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) may be appropriate.


Colorado Secretary of State

Division of Commercial Recordings

1700 Broadway, Suite 250 Denver, CO 80290

(303) 869-4867


United States Patent and Trademark Office

(571) 272-1000


What is a Copyright?

Copyright is a legal protection granted by United States law to the creators of original works of authorship, encompassing literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual creations.

The Copyright Act grants the copyright owner exclusive rights to:

  • Reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords.
  • Prepare derivative works based on the original.
  • Distribute copies or phonorecords to the public through sale, transfer of ownership, rental, lease, or lending.
  • Perform the work publicly, for literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, motion pictures, and other audiovisual works.
  • Display the work publicly, for literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including individual images within audiovisual works.
  • Perform sound recordings publicly through digital audio transmission.

Where Do You Register A Copyright?


To obtain an application form and additional information, please contact the Copyright Office at the Library of Congress

 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, DC 20559,

(202) 707-3000


What is a Patent?

A patent is a government-granted property right that allows you to control a technology for 20 years. This exclusive right enables you to prevent others from making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing the invention within the United States.

Types of Patents

Utility Patentsfor inventing a new or improved and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter.

Design Patentsfor inventing a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.

Plant Patentsfor inventing or discovering and asexually reproducing any distinct and new variety of plant.

How Long is a Patent Valid for?

Utility and plant patents are valid for up to 20 years from the filing date of the first non-provisional application for patent. Design patents, on the other hand, are granted for a term of 15 years from the date of grant.

What Can Be Patented?

Legally, a utility patent may cover “any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.” A design patent may cover “any new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture,” and a plant patent may cover a “distinct and new variety of plant, including cultivated sports, mutants, hybrids, and newly found seedlings, other than a tuber-propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state,” invented or discovered and asexually reproduced.

So, for a patent to be issued, your invention must meet four conditions:

  • Able to be used (the invention must work and cannot just be a theory)
  • A clear description of how to make and use the invention
  • New, or “novel” (something not done before)
  • “Not obvious,” as related to a change to something already invented

Who Can Apply For a Patent?

An inventor or their legal representative may apply for a patent, except if the inventor is deceased, legally incapacitated, refuses to apply, or cannot be located. If two or more individuals jointly invent something, they can apply for a patent as co-inventors. Additionally, a person or entity to whom an inventor has assigned or is obligated to assign an invention may also apply for a patent.

However, if you only provide financial support without contributing to the invention itself, you cannot be listed as an inventor or co-inventor on the patent application. Moreover, if you are not the inventor and do not have rights assigned or obligated to you by the inventor, you are not eligible to apply for a patent.

How much will it cost?

Securing a patent can involve significant time and expense relative to its potential value. On average, it takes around 24 months from application submission to patent approval. Costs for filing a patent can vary widely, ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 on average.

Where Do You Register A Patent?

 United States Patent and Trademark Office

General Information Seminars, Washington, DC 20231

Boulder County Trademarks Lawyers

You can find a list of lawyers in Boulder County with experience in Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights through local legal directories or the Boulder County Bar Association.