You’ve surely heard about trademark and copyright, but do you know what the difference between the two is? What connects them is that both are meant to protect intellectual property. But intellectual property rights is a broad area with trademark and copyright as its separate branches. They protect different things and operate under different laws. Understanding the difference is crucial for protecting your business.
According to The United States Patent and Trademark Office, a trademark protects “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.” It could be a logo, symbol, sound, slogan, catch phrase, smell or all at once.
If it’s something that is used to distinguish a brand from its competitors in the market, then it qualifies as a trademark. It draws attention to the uniqueness of the brand and protects its authenticity.
The law permits the owner to prevent others from using it unauthorized. A trademark can be registered and unregistered. To get the protection rights, you’ll need to register the trademark. The period of authority is generally 10 years. However, the owner can renew it if he/she wishes.
Main Trademark Types
Arbitrary trademark: Is usually a common word, which becomes a trademark when is applied to a meaningless context. An example would do better here than a definition. Consider, Apple as a trademark for computers. The word apple hardly had any connection with technology, before it became the trademark of the most valuable global brand.
Fanciful trademark: Those are a type of trademarks that consist of made up words. “Kodak” is a good example of a fanciful trademark. The word did not have any use or meaning before it started to be associated with photographic goods. By the way, George Eastman, the creator of Kodak had a helpful tip about trademarks. He said they should be short, vigorous, easily spelled and meaningless.
Suggestive trademark: As you already guess by its name, the trademark should hint at the characteristic or quality of a brand or service. Think of Jaguar in the context of automobiles, you will most probably associate it with speed. Suggestive trademarks can be canny marketing tools if used properly. The problem is, that sometimes one thing that might be suggestive to one person, might not have the same effect on the other.
It applies to the works that are original and creative. According to the United States Copyright Office, copyright relates to original works including “literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works.” However, copyright does not protect the name artists give to the work or the logo they use for promoting it.
A business can protect is books, reports, audio or video materials with a copyright. To register a copyright is necessary if the owner wants to be able to sue over the illegal use of material by another party. For that, you’ll need to fill a form, pay a fee and to send a copy of the work to the United States Copyright Office. The rights an author receives after registration run for a fixed term. It covers the life of the author with 60 years in addition.
If you copyright your intellectual work you’ll have full-fledged right to print, publish, copy and market it. Be that a book, movie, photograph, painting, music or a dance. You can also promote your work for sale and adapt it if you wish.
Can You Have Both?
The fact that copyright and trademark are different still doesn’t mean you can’t have both at a time. Think of your company’s logo. It is for sure a trademark, however, it makes sense to copyright it as well. If it contains some original creative work by you or some of your team, they file for a copyright without a doubt.
And finally the last tip. It is worth registering your trademark and copyright before you start using it for promoting and selling your products. The US Patent and Trademark Office will do a research and notify you if its already in use. Trademark and copyright are both important parts of the intellectual law. Knowing the difference will help you understand what you need for your business, artistic creation, or both.