Trademark vs. Copyright

When one produces unique concepts and products, the creator of these concepts and products would likely want to protect the creation from other individuals copying and reproducing them. Fortunately, federal and state law provide protection for these individualistic creations; two of which are protected by legal concepts called trademark and copyright. What protections do copyright and trademark provide? Let’s discuss.

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What is Copyright Protection?

According to the United States Copyright Office subject matter of copyright include:

(a) Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Works of authorship include the following categories:

  1. literary works;
  2. musical works, including any accompanying words;
  3. dramatic works, including any accompanying music;
  4. pantomimes and choreographic works;
  5. pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
  6. motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
  7. sound recordings; and
  8. architectural works.

In sum, the copyright protection is provided for the categories listed above. The protection is initiated, and thus the work is copyrighted, at the time the work is created.  It is important to note, however, that the material to be copyrighted must be registered with the United States Copyright Office if one would like to sue over the use of the material by another party. In order to gain copyright protection, a filing form must be completed, and sent along with a filing fee, to the United States Copyright Office.

What is Trademark Protection?

Trademark protection is protection provided by the United States Patent and Trademark Office; according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, this protection is extended to: “a word, phrase, symbol, or design, or a combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.”

Basically, trademarking is used to protect against dual use of slogans, business names, or any other indication that distinguishes the company. The initial step in registering a trademark is conducting a search to indicate that the trademark is not already used. If one is considering trademarking any of the above-mentioned, it is highly recommended to discuss this with an attorney.

What are the Main Differences Between Copyright and Trademark?

Although both copyright and trademark provide intellectual property protection, they offer protection to distinct assets. For example, copyright protects original artistic and literary works, while trademarks protect brand names and logos.

Copyright is triggered upon creation of the artistic and literary work, while a trademark must be registered before the protection is triggered. Both copyright and trademark may seem complicated and it is highly recommended to consult an attorney in order to better understand timely deadlines, the procedure in filing for the protection, and the extent of protection copyright and trademark provide.