Many people are confused about whether they need a copyright or a trademark. Copyrights and trademarks protect two different types of material. 

A copyright protects a work you have created that exists physically (or digitally). For example, a book, blog, article, photograph, sculpture, piece of art, architectural drawings, music, composition, website, movie, TV show, script, computer code, or some other artistic material. You can think of copyright as protecting a “thing.” You cannot copyright an idea. It is the expression of the idea that is protected. You also cannot copyright a short saying or slogan.

A trademark, on the other hand, indicates a source of goods or services. It is most commonly your brand name, slogan, tagline, or logo. It is not necessarily your domain name or your company name. However, if those are used properly as a trademark, they can receive trademark protection as well.

Copyrights come into existence when the work is created. Trademark rights can exist upon the proper use of the mark. (The “proper” use of a trademark is a future blog post!) However, both copyrights and trademarks may also be federally registered. Federal registration can create a more valuable and marketable asset. Registration also provides you additional protection if infringement occurs. 

Copyrights are filed with the United States Copyright Office. Trademarks are filed with United States Patent and Trademark Office. Both offices have online filing systems, and charge fees for the filings. 

While it is possible to file your own copyright and trademark applications, there are a lot of formalities and technical details that you need to be familiar with in order for the application to actually register. If you would like to learn more about increasing the value of, and/or protecting your intellectual property assets, give our office a call. I will be posting more tips like this in the upcoming weeks, so be sure to check back!