Trademarks and copyrights are two categories of intellectual property. This post discusses the fundamental differences between the two, including what concepts each protect and how to go about getting that protection.
Trademark protection covers items that help define a business’ brand. Brand names, business names, logos, phrases and slogans are examples of concepts that fall under trademark laws and may be eligible for trademark registration.
Copyright protection relates to the content of original works. Works include but are not limited to original writings, novels, poetry, art, songs, movies, architecture, podcasts, software and other audio and visual productions.
Trademark laws provide owners of trademarks legal remedies against others that use brand identifiers that are similar and likely to be confused with their mark.
Copyright law provides copyright owners with legal remedies against unauthorized copying of a work, distributing and selling copies of a work, performing a work in public, or adapting a work.
Common law trademark protection attaches once a mark is used in commerce in a particular geographic area. Federal trademark registration with the USPTO is not required to obtain common law protection, however federal registration provides trademark owners with the strongest legal tools available to deter infringement and seek damages caused by infringement.
Copyright protection attaches when the work is created and preserved in some form. This protection attaches automatically and does not require registration. Works can be registered with the Copyright Office and doing so may strengthen the ability of copyright owners to take legal action against copyright infringers.
· Trademark protection may last forever, so long as the mark remains used in commerce. Federal Trademark Registration with the USPTO must be renewed every 10 years after the initial registration.
· The length of copyright protection depends on author of the work. If the work was created by an individual, then copyright protection lasts the life of the author plus 70 years. If the work was created by hire, then copyright protection lasts either 95 years from publication or 120 years from date of creation, whichever is shorter.
Please feel free to Contact Alex to discuss the post or to get started on protecting your intellectual property.
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