What’s the difference between copyright and trademark? Most people know they both protect property and intellectual property in some way, but many can’t pick out the key differences and the types of property protection they cover.
Well, if your business has a brand or produces original material or assets, you’re going to want to listen up. If you’re protected correctly by a trademark or copyright, when someone else uses your intellectual property incorrectly or without your permission, you have grounds to file lawsuits against them.
Both copyright and trademark protect intangible assets such as designs, inventions, writing, artistic work, symbols, logos, images, and any other original creation for commerce purposes. Working with an established end-to-end production team to license your product ensures the protection of your intellectual property without sacrificing your product’s reach.
What’s The Difference Between Copyright & Trademark?
The distinguishing factor between copyright and trademark is the asset you're protecting. While both offer protection for intangible assets, the asset itself determines whether you need a trademark or copyright.
Copyright protects creations such as documents and literary and artistic work. Furthermore, copyright is immediately assumed and automatically generated upon the completion of the work.
On the other hand, a trademark requires registration through legal processes. Most often, a trademark is something that represents a business or a brand, such as a product name, logo, or slogan.
How To Protect A Trademark
As mentioned, trademarks are required for protecting intellectual property including:
- Business names
- Brand names
- Product names
There are additions to this list. The best method for deciding if something needs to be trademarked is if it represents the company in any way. For example, the Coca-Cola glass bottle shape is trademarked – as is the word footlong by Subway. While not any of the types of assets we mentioned above, they still directly relate to and represent the brand.
If you’re operating in the US, you’ll need to register your trademarks through the USPTO (US Patent & Trademark Office). Here, they’ll conduct a thorough search to ensure your assets aren’t already in use and are eligible to be trademarked. Additionally, if you’re using these assets outside of the US, you’ll need to contact relevant authorities in other countries to ensure registration.
How To Protect A Copyright
Realistically, you don’t have to do anything to protect a copyright. In most cases, ownership is assumed upon creation. However, it’s wise to follow a couple of simple steps:
- Using the copyright symbol where applicable
- Sign your work with a signature or watermark
To take your protection a step further and prevent any difficulties in potential court battles in the future, it’s worth registering any copyrighted material you think is valuable to your business. – this is also completed via the USPTO.