For most inventors issues of legal protection are very confusing. In fact, most inventors will simply get a patent on their invention. However, there can be cases where a copyright or trademark play a part in your overall protection strategy – so I asked some attorney friends of mine to explain the differences for us…
The choice between registering a trademark and a copyright is not always a clear one. Trademark and copyright registration are both means of protecting your intellectual property rights. There are, however, important differences between trademark and copyright protection.
Copyrights are a form of protection for the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other creative works.
Copyright does not cover intellectual property such as titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; familiar symbols or designs; or mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring. This type of intangible property is often more appropriately protected by a trademark. Think of memorable advertising slogans you have heard. Chances are these slogans are protected by a trademark of some sort, while they are unlikely to qualify for copyright protection.
A trademark protects a word, phrase, symbol or design (or a combination of these), that identifies and distinguishes the goods or services of one person or company from those of others.
Some things, such as more complex logos, may qualify for both trademark and copyright protection. This is because the amount of original authorship in a logo can vary greatly. Most highly recognizable logos are extremely simple objects, such as the Nike “swoosh,” and would not qualify for copyright protection. However, a more ornate logo with a great deal of creative authorship might qualify for both trademark and copyright protection.
To protect the name of your company, your newly designed name, logo or a catchphrase, a trademark is probably what you need. To protect your latest painting, the next great American novel or even a brilliantly choreographed dance sequence, a copyright is probably the best route for you.
Trademark and copyright registrations are both issued by the federal government and protect two distinct types of intellectual property. Here are some key differences:
Remember, A Trademark protects names, terms and symbols that are used to identify the source of goods and/or services on the market. In other words, a trademark lets the consumer distinguish one company’s offerings from another’s. Trademarks include brand names such as “Coca-Cola” and images such as Nike’s famous “swoosh.” As the owner of a federally registered trademark, you can sue for trademark infringement in federal court and prevent the importation of foreign goods that display your trademark.
. Company, brand, or product names
· Logos and other marks used to identify a company or product
· Company taglines and catch phrases such as “just do it.”
While a Copyright protects original creative works such as books, movies, songs, paintings, photographs, web content and choreography. As the owner of a federally registered copyright, you can control how your work is reproduced, distributed and presented publicly, and you can sue infringers in federal court and prevent others from importing infringing goods.
· Books, articles, web content, and other writings
· Paintings, photographs, and other visual works
· Songs, movies, television shows and ads
· Recorded dances, choreography and other performing arts works