Learn the differences between a trademark and copyright registration to choose the one best option to protect your intellectual property.
Ideas and innovations shape the world, while innovators are the faces of society. Innovators strive to produce creative and novel ideas for the elevation of society while also protecting their intellectual properties (IP).
Trademarks and copyrights are two critical tools that guard your IP. They ensure that no one poaches your original ideas. Even though trademarks and copyrights both refer to IPs, distinguishing their use is tricky. Here's a comprehensive understanding of trademark vs. copyright and where they're most useful.
Trademarks date back to ancient Greek times when skilled artisans engraved their distinct mark, a maker's mark, on their products. Today, you can distinguish between a high-quality label and a knockoff by the modern-day version of a maker’s mark, a trademark.
A registered trademark is the legal enforcement of such a mark and uniquely identifies a business. Anything can be a trademark, from words, phrases, images, graphical illustrations, and any combinations.
The following symbols indicate a trademark claim:
™ (Trademark): An unregistered mark for laying claim to a symbol or logo
® (Registered Trademark): Indicates officially registered trademarks
℠ (Service Mark): An unregistered mark used in indicating a service rather than a product
Copyright provides automatic protection of your unique creations. It gives you the exclusive right to reproduce, sell, or publish your original work. Copyright protection extends to every authentic expression in a tangible form but not the idea itself. Although, the fair use doctrine in the U.S. permits limited use of the copyrighted material.
You have to register a copyright if you wish to pursue a lawsuit for infringement in the U.S. Copyrights are also territorial in the sense that copyrights granted in the U.S. might not be valid worldwide. Even though the U.S. has established copyright relations with most nations, the items they cover vary greatly.
A trademark prevents other people from copying your brand name, logo, or slogan used on goods or services. It also plays a significant role in establishing your brand and building a solid client base.
A registered trademark gives you exclusive rights to the nationwide use of your branding and guards your brand or mark against infringement. Trademarks also allow consumers to quickly identify your brand.
Trademark registration allows you to use the prestigious ® symbol alongside your trademark. The mark helps sell goods and services online while also securing your future expansion plans. Registered trademarks also receive a significant amount as damages upon a successful infringement claim in a court.
A copyright protects original works of authorship. This includes
Plays, musicals, movies, shows, photos, videos, and music
Books, articles, blogs, stories, and poetry
Paintings, sculptures, architectures, cartoons, and any other artworks
Games and other computer software
Copyright laws protect your works from being plagiarized but don't cover every aspect of your work. It doesn't cover your work's basic plot or theme and historical events, facts, or any standard information mentioned.
Successful registration of your creation with the U.S. Copyright Office also has benefits, such as
Receiving the presumption of validity in the event of litigation
Eligibility for damages against any post-registration infringement
Stopping the distribution or display of any unauthorized copy of your work in the U.S
Creating a public record of your work
Protects original works of authorship from unauthorized duplications.
Protection is available in most countries on successful registration, as long as an agreement exists between the nations.
Valid for 70 years after the creator's death.
Grants the rights to reproduction, distribution, display, derivative works, and public performance of the original work.
Protects any word, phrase, and graphical illustration that uniquely identifies a brand.
Trademarks are generally country-limited and require individual application in each country.
Valid for as long as it’s being used in commerce.
Grants the absolute right over the use and display of the mark. It also prevents others from using similar marks that may confuse the consumers.
Even though trademark and copyright protections can overlap, sometimes you may have to choose one over the other or even both. Copyright only protects artistic works and can't fully protect your business' name or logo against infringement. Trademarking prevents your company's logo design from being replicated by potential competitors. This ensures that your company is distinguishable while at the same time enabling protection to its intellectual properties.
Meanwhile, when a logo isn't used to identify your company, and it's an original artwork, it should be copyright protected. A trademark only limits confusion among the consumers, while copyright defends against undesired copying. You can also opt for both of them for better protection of your intellectual properties.
The process of trademark registration starts with searching for the mark's availability. United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) fees are non-refundable even if your application is rejected. Knowing the mark's availability beforehand avoids the needless wastage of time and money. Once you've successfully registered, it's also essential to continue monitoring for any infringements.
Trademark Engine offers you support across every stage of this process. You can quickly get a comprehensive search report spanning both international and domestic databases. Our online registration process starts at only $99 + USPTO filing fees. We provide trademark monitoring service at just $175 a quarter. It includes continuous monitoring for any infringements or appearance of similar marks that may interest you.
You can also get a copyright registration with Trademark Engine. All you have to do is fill out a simple questionnaire and get your copyright application filed for just $99 + federal filing fees.
Trademark Engine is not a law firm and none of the information on this website constitutes or is intended to convey legal advice. General information about the law is not the same as advice about the application of the law in a particular factual or legal situation. Individual facts and circumstances as well as legal principles including but not limited to the ones referenced on this website can affect the outcome of any given situation. Trademark Engine cannot and does not guarantee that an application will be approved by the USPTO, that a mark will be protected from infringement under common US trademark law, or that any ensuing litigation or dispute will lead to a favorable outcome. If you want or have an interest in obtaining legal advice with respect to a specific situation or set of circumstances, you should consult with the lawyer of your choice.