Assume I create a "Swiss knife widget v1."

Do I own a "copyright" on the widget? What does a copyright protect?

Assuming I do have a copyright on the widget, if another company copies my widget exactly and starts manufacturing it, can I stop them from making it?

In this case, do I also need to apply for a a patent to protect my creation? What is the difference between a copyright and a patent in the US?

I am only talking about tangible items like hardware.


1 Answer 1


Copyrights protect "expressions" of works of authorship, not ideas or product designs. Your data sheet can be copyright protected, and your user manual, your photos and videos of your great thing also. The name could be protected by trademark. If someone makes the same knife and called it something else and writes their own ads and takes their own pictures you have no protection.

Not all works of "authorship" are copyrightable subject matter. Is the knife a statue ? enter image description here

There is a form of patent called a design patent that does cover the "look" of an article of manufacture. It has to be a novel and non obvious look.

  • The knife is an expression, is it not? If the knife looks exactly like mine and works exactly like mine, what is the difference between my knife and his? (and I came up with the original idea) Jul 30, 2013 at 20:29
  • Yet only certain forms of expression are statutorily copyrightable.
    – SRDC
    Nov 8, 2015 at 5:16

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