Business has a wide variety of terms, rules, and regulations. In previous articles we have aimed to unravel some business laws and break down their meanings into simpler concepts. Almost every company creates a unique product or service and intends to create “brand awareness” to their audience. Branding your business is closely related to the topic of this article “copyright vs trademark.” As it has been highlighted before, understanding business laws is important for business owners so that they can avoid any legal hassle. Let us go straight to the topic and clarify the copyright VS trademark confusion and understand the laws of intellectual property protection.
Copyright VS Trademark: What Is a Copyright?
According to USPTO, “A copyright protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture.” This means that copyright is a law that protects intellectual property. A copyright is valid for a specific duration. For example, works which belong to individuals are protected as long as their author is alive and seventy years afterwards. Copyright acts give the owner the exclusive right to perform or display the work publicly. In addition to other advantages, the owner can sell and distribute his or her own work, or can even transfer legal rights to another person. If your business produces any of the works which are covered by copyright law, you should definitely register your copyright. Even Ads or online marketing campaigns are subject to copyright. It is worthy to mention that copyright does not protect “ideas,” it rather protects pieces of work. For example, J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter is copyrighted, however, that does not prevent anyone from writing another novel about a boy who steps into the world of magic.
Copyright VS Trademark: What Is a Trademark?
USPTO’s definition of a trademark is “a word, phrase, slogan, symbol, design, or a combination thereof.” A trademark is like an ID card for your business, and eventually for the product and the service you provide as well. While consumers are checking your product either online or in stores, a trademark is what distinguishes your products from other similar ones on the shelf. There is no doubt that trademarks are crucial in the process of creating brand awareness for any company. Branding has, of course, a strong effect on consumers’ behavior and buying decisions. The trademark law is also one that protects an intellectual property. If you register your business’s trademark, the law guarantees that no other business will use that trademark as their own across the country. Registering your trademark is not mandatory, however, it is highly recommended that you do, especially if your business provides services across the country or even globally. It comes natural that you cannot use a trademark that another business has already registered for itself. For that reason, you should do a trademark research before you apply for a trademark registration to make sure that it has never been taken before. Unlike copyrights, trademarks do not expire after a set term of years.
Copyright VS Trademark: What Are the Differences?
Although both are laws for protecting intellectual property, they differ in the aspects they cover. Copyright is concerned with creative works such as written content, music, video or film making. In other words, protecting the right to creating original and authentic works of art. A trademark, on the other hand, is concerned with the identification of a business. Trademark law protects the right to the exclusive use of a specific logo for a specific company. Any company may make use of both laws according to its needs. For example, if your company produces sports shoes, you can register the logo of your brand under the trademark law, and register your commercials for copyrights.
Confusing Terms: A Brand, a Business Name, and a Patent
Is There a Difference between a Brand and a trademark?
A brand is a trademark in action. Although they sometimes overlap, they are not exactly the same. A brand is defined as the entire image that consumers have about your company. It resembles their relationship to your company; where they have seen it before, if they ever bought something from your business, your customer service, and the quality of your products. It is the consumer’s experience with a business. A trademark is only a part of that experience. It is like an ID card to your business. Your ID is not your entire entity, but it allows people to recognize you.
Trademark VS Business Name
Those two are usually mistakes to be the same thing. A business name is merely the name under which you do business in a particular part of a country. Registering a business name for your company does not give you the same benefits a trademark registration does. It is possible to use a business name as a trademark, as long as it was not used by another company.
What Is a Patent?
A Patent is an exclusive right given to an inventor which prevents anyone else from using or selling that invention for a certain period of time. USPTO defines it as “a limited duration property right relating to an invention.” Patentable materials may include machines, product designs, or drugs.
Copyright VS Trademark: Why Should You Understand These Laws?
A trademark is important to your business for two main reasons. First, a trademark is a powerful way of communication. It can deliver a short, yet an effective message about what your business stands for. Not only does it make people recognize your business, but also it is a sign of trust and reliability. It also builds a sense of familiarity between your company and the consumer which becomes a huge motive to choose your business over another. Second, a trademark has value. Over time, trademarks gain value, just like real estate, trademarks can be bought, sold, or rented. They can even be used as a security interest to secure a loan.
It is obvious that copyright acts are made for your own protection. For many businesses, intellectual works are dearly valuable since the company’s main income is dependent on them. Therefore, understanding the benefits of copyright registrations can make them feel secure and stable knowing that they can sue whoever violates their copyrighted material.
Copyright VS Trademark: Final Things to Remember
Let us sum up the main points you need to remember:
- A trademark is a logo or a design that identifies your brand.
- A copyright protects the exclusiveness of original artistic or creative works to their author.
- A patent protects the exclusiveness of inventions to their creators.
- A trademark is only a part of a brand, although in many contexts the two terms are used to refer to the same thing.
- A business name is merely the name of the entity and is not equal to a trademark.