Trademarks vs Copyrights

Written by Wesley Henderson

June 5, 2022

image of understanding trademarks copyrights

Most business starters don’t know the difference between trademarks and copyrights, they think that they are interchangeable when they are defined in legal terms very differently. This article will go into detail on trademarking and copywriting and which one would be best for your business.

image of trademarks vs copyrights

Does your small business need a trademark or a copyright? What are the differences and use?


Trademark Explained

Also know as badges of origin, trademarks in commerce are used to establish your rights to a word, phrase, symbol, or design that distinguishes the source of goods.
This can include slogans, brand names, and logos. Trademarks provide protection as long as the owner continues to use it in ordinary commerce.
You can file for a trademark with the United States Patent and official office. Additionally, many states have trademarking filing options.
We recommend you hire an attorney to file your trademark.

Trademark examples: “Just Do It”, Drafted Legal ®, Apple ®, Lululemon ® (business names, taglines, and logos). For tips on researching your own trademark, use our download found here for a free guide that shows you step by step how to research your business name.

Copyright Explained

This protects your work but only applies to certain types of work. Copyrights give you the right to reproduce the work, prepare derivative works, distribute copies, perform the work publicly, and display the work publicly.

To vest a copyright, the work needs to be original and reduced to a tangible medium, like a writing, hard drive, or recording.
Once vested, you can register your work with the official office to ensure you are deemed the owner.

Copyrights don’t actually require a filing (meaning you can get protection from someone stealing your work just by having created the work itself), but there can be advantages to filing the actual copyright.

The rights of a copyright last for the life of the creator plus 70 years.
Registering for a copyright allows you to prosecute when there is an infringement on your rights of your work that is fixed and original.

Copyright examples: blog posts, poems, books, song lyrics, sound recordings, paintings, photographs.

Difference and Use

Depending on what you would like to protect and to what extent is the ultimate factor in deciding if you want to trademark or copywrite your work.

If your business is centered around a word, phrase or design, trademarking would be the way to go.
Trademarking would guarantee that no one would misuse your brand or create a brand that is very similar in a way that is indistinguishable to consumers.

If your business is more artistic, literary, or an intellectually created work that is original, copyrighting would be more beneficial.
Copyrighting allows you to protect your exclusive right to reproduce or distribute your work whether it be a song, novel, movie, or other original work and it prevents others from copying or exploiting it without your permission.

The difference between a copyright vs trademark is that they protect different assets.
You use a trademark to protect items that define your company, whereas you would use copyright to protect original works.
For example, Acme Publishing company would trademark their name and logo and copyright their books and videos.

You can use both trademarking and copyrighting, but you should be careful on which you choose depending on what you plan to protect.
Trademarks are mostly used for your company’s name and logo, whereas copyrights should be for original works that you put on the market.
If you are ever confused on what you should use to protect your assets, you can talk to a business attorney for the right fit.

Trademark vs Copyright Video


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