Copyright Law
Legal Definitions
Intellectual Property

What is the difference between a copyright and trademark?

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Todd L Ross
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2019-08-02 19:12:21
2019-08-02 19:12:21

Both copyrights and trademarks protect intellectual property, but they differ in several significant ways:

Usage - Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a copyright protects any original work “fixed in any tangible medium of expression.” That could include books, poems, business reports, and any other intellectual work. The copyright holder also holds exclusive right to produce derivative works—if a new songwriter wants to sample an original composition, they’ll have to get permission from the composition’s copyright holder.

Trademarks, on the other hand, protect “words, names, symbols, sounds, or colors that distinguish goods and services from those manufactured or sold by others and to indicate the source of the goods.” A company might trademark their logo, for instance, preventing competitors from using similar logos.

To put that more simply: A music label might trademark its logo and brand name, but it would have to copyright its music.

Length - Trademarks do not expire after a certain number of years; they could technically last forever, provided that the owner continues to use them. That’s not the case for copyrights.

The exact length of protection for a copyright varies depending on a number of factors, but generally, works created after Jan. 1, 1978 have an automatic copyright for the life of the author and an additional 70 years.

The Application Process - Copyrights, technically, are automatic. All original works are copyrighted as soon as they’re created. But the copyright needs to be registered in order for the owner to pursue litigation. In other words, if you write a book, you’ve got a copyright, but if someone steals it, you’ll need a copyright registration in order to sue them. Copyright registration is a fairly straightforward process and can be completed online for a small fee.

The trademark application is more involved, and most businesses give the task to an attorney (in fact, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office essentially recommends getting an attorney’s help on their application page). The trademark must not be in use elsewhere, and the applicant must declare a basis for filing—essentially, they have to explain how they’ll use the mark and/or how they’ve used it in the past.

Hopefully, this information is helpful in determining whether a copyright or trademark is necessary. We’re not attorneys, so if you’re considering either, contact a qualified lawyer to get the best possible advice for your situation.

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Related Questions


Trademark vs. copyright is slightly difficult to decipher. Trademarks protect specific words, pictures, or symbols that actually identify a brand, company, or person. Copyright is more like protecting from plagiarism such as an authors journalism, a musical artists lyrics, and an artists painting.

Copyright is instantaneous Trademark has to be applied for Copyright cannot be "lost" Trademarks must be "vigorously" defended Copyright has a fixed term Trademarks have a variable term Copyrights expire and cannot be renewed Trademarks can be renewed indefinetly

Aquacoir is protected by patent and trademark, not copyright. The trademark is registered to OMS Investments.

Copyright protection is instantaneous as soon as a work is finished. Trademark must be applied for. Copyright cannot be "lost" it can only be sold or given away. Trademark must be defended or it can be lost. Copyright expires after a fixed period of time and cannot be renewed. Trademarks can be renewed, theoretically forever. Copyright works that pass into public domain cannot be recopyrighted. Trademarks can be revived after expiration.

the diffeence between a brand and a trademark is a brand is words and a trademark is a symbol or picture Example Brand American eagle Trademark the eagle

Trademark Slogan mark registered trademark

There may be a trademark on a particular brand, but not hats in general. Copyright famously does not protect fashion.

None. you wouldn't copyright the copyright symbol, you would trademark it.

Copyright protection is instantaneous as soon as a work is finished. Trademark must be applied for. Copyright cannot be "lost" it can only be sold or given away. Trademark must be defended or it can be lost. Copyright expires after a fixed period of time and cannot be renewed. Trademarks can be renewed, theoretically forever. Copyright works that pass into public domain cannot be recopyrighted. Trademarks can be revived after expiration.

Copyright law automatically protects creative works such as music and art. Patents are issued for innovative inventions, processes, and plant hybrids. Trademarks protect consumers by preventing fraud in the marketplace.

No, you make it a trademark. A copyright is on written materials.

you can neither trademark nor copyright a body treatment. You could trademark the name of the treatment or copyright an illustration, written description, or film of the treatment. To protect a method of operation you would have to seek a patent.

Better? It is certainly "different". Copyright lasts for a fixed period. Trademark lasts as long as the owner continues to use it. You can have trademark rights on things that cannot be protected by copyright and vice versa.

You want trademark protection, not copyright protection. In the US, you can apply online via the link below.

Generally a trademark wouldn't additionally require a copyright statement; the (tm) or (R) indication would cover it.

In the US there are two separate agencies for copyright and trademark administration. The US Copyright Office oversees the registration of copyright and archives the information with the Library of Congress. The Patent and Trademark Office is in charge of administering trademark applications and renewals, maintains the Trademark Electroniic Search System (TESS) and handles patent applications and awards.

A trademark protects a logo, business name, or slogan from confusion in the marketplace; it is specifically registering a mark for use in trade. Copyright protects creative works, regardless of whether they are ever exploited for profit.

The game Operation is protected by copyright and trademark.

It is a trademark registered by Sony Japan in 1997.

No, but you can register it as a trademark.

Copyright law gives creators of original works the exclusive right to copy, alter, distribute, or perform/display the work, or allow others to do so. The goal of copyright law is to encourage creativity by rewarding hard work and making it possible to create for a living. Trademark law protects business names, logos, and slogans--"marks"--used in trade. The goal of trademark law is to protect consumers by reducing fraud in the marketplace.

Copyright: Push these buttons ( C ) R trademark: Push these buttons ( R ) Trademark: Do font size and click on 9 then press these buttons T M

Heinz does not have copyright on the word Heinz, but it does have a trademark on the name.

Trademark protects designs used in commerce, such as logos. You may register the trademark with the trademark office of each country in which you seek to do business. If your design is not to be used as a logo, it can be protected by copyright. Copyright protection is automatic as soon as the work is fixed in a tangible medium.


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