Copyright and trademark registrations have long held at least one advantage over patents, the © and ® symbols which efficiently denote registered intellectual property. Proper marking of patented articles requires display of the word “Patent” or “Pat.” together with the number of the relevant patent or an internet address where the number may be found. However, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office held an open house to develop icons for patented articles, as well as a number of other intellectual property concepts, and recently published its selections.
At the open house in August, which was facilitated by The Noun Project, a small group of people were tasked with designing symbols that denote various intellectual property concepts such as “utility patent,” “design patent,” “infringement,” and “trade secret.” At this point it does not appear that these icons will supplement or replace proper marking of patented articles, or other intellectual property, those requirements are still governed by statute. The PTO did state that its goal was to creat a set of internationally recognizable icons that will help increase communication around intellectual property. Nevertheless, the prospect does remain that such a highly recognized icon might one day serve as legal notice.