The basic concept behind copyrights and patents is providing legal protection to the inventors, authors, and creators of artistic works that insures their right to economic benefit from the investment of their time, skill, energy, and vision of their inventions and creations. This nation's founders viewed legal protection for economic benefit resulting from one's creative efforts as so crucial to the encouragement of artistic and scientific inventions that they included it in the Constitution, and the first federal patent and copyright laws were enacted in 1790.
The basic concept behind trademarks is to prevent unfair competition. Trademark law protects the owner of a trademarked name or symbol, e.g., the name "Burger King" or McDonald's "Golden Arches", from a competitor using a name or symbol which is so similar that it causes confusion for consumers, who may be "stolen" from the owner of the trademark. For example, because the name "Burger King" has trademark protection, it would be illegal for a competitor to name its fast-food restaurants the same, or nearly the same. Similar protections are extended to unique services through "service marks."