Copyright and Trademarks
Copyright protects the original works of authorship including literary, dramatical, musical, and artistic works. These can include your photography, a novel, poetry, software, music, plays, patterns, and architecture. Another way to look at it is an idea taking physical form, and this form can be digital. An idea itself cannot be copyrighted but once it has taken form or is expressed in some way that moves it away from an idea, that expression can be copyrighted. Opinions, facts, and methods of operation cannot be copyrighted, but how they are expressed has the potential to be copyrighted.
Copyrights automatically manifest once the expression is in a fixed tangible format. So once the book is written, the photo is taken, or the song recorded, it is copyrighted. Even though your creative work is generally automatically copyrighted, you should still get the advice of an attorney. An attorney can help you understand the extent of your copyright, to help you maintain, or even register it. While you do not need to register or use the copyright symbol, registration does provide some benefits, when you need to enforce your copyright.
A Trademark is a symbol, word, phrase, name, or combination thereof used to identify or distinguish the goods or services of one provider from another. In other words, it is what people can use to identify their business from others that provide similar goods and services. A business or individual may have multiple goods and services and each have their own trademark. For example, the Nike swish is a trademark of Nike products and is used to show the customer that Nike created the shirt or shoe.
While a Trademark may seem easy to understand, an attorney can help you navigate and advise you on how best to set up and protect your Trademark. An attorney will be able to advise you on whether your mark can be trademarked, and can help you navigate the scope of your trademark. Unlike copyrights, your trademark can be limited to a specific geographical location. An attorney can tell you if this is the best course of action for you.
Like copyrights, you do not need to register the trademark to receive protections. Also, as with copyrights, trademark registration can give your added benefits that help to strengthen the protections for your Trademark. The United States Patent and Trademark Office recommends hiring an attorney when you want to register your trademark.
If you are thinking about creating a business or product, consult our attorneys to determine how to best protect your intellectual property rights.