What is the difference between copyright and trademarks?

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Copyright vs trademark

The difference is fairly simple when we talk about words. Trademarks cover separate words and sentences and copyright covers long texts. What can be copyrighted normally can’t be trademarked and vice versa. But this applies only to the word parts, when we come to protecting logos, everything is quite different.

A logo can be protected by copyright and trademark at the same time!

How to avoid the confusion and get an optimal protection for your trademark/logo?

Keep on reading!

 

What are the main differences between copyright and trademark?

First, let’s talk about the difference between a trademark and copyright.
Copyright vs Trademarks

TRADEMARKS

Used to cover names of products/services

COPYRIGHT

Used to cover literary and artistic works

UPSIDE

  • A trademark can last forever
  • Anyone who uses your trademark without your permission can be sued
  • Can cover names of characters
  • Covers similar wordings
  • Can use ®
  • Can prevent others from using your trademark on products
  • Protects domain names
  • You can register it online
  • Don’t have to formally register it (it’s recommended though)
  • Free to get
  • Free to maintain
  • International - covers up to 180 countries
  • Instant to get
  • Lasts your life + 70 years

DOWNSIDE

  • Have to apply for it at the Trademark Office
  • Quite expensive to get and maintain
  • Must be used in commerce to maintain
  • Territorial - need to be registered in every country
  • The process of registration can take years
  • When copyright is expired it can’t be renewed
  • Doesn’t cover separate words and names of characters
  • Can’t prevent others from using separate words in association with their products/services
  • In some countries can’t be owned by companies
  • Becomes public domain at the end

It seems that copyright is a deal-breaker when choosing between a trademark and copyright. When you get something free and for more than 100 years why bother to register the trademark?
But there is a catch in copyright vs trademark.
 

What does copyright cover?

Many different things: songs, books, stories, music, pictures, photos, programs, maps, etc. The creation must be sufficiently big (you can’t cover a few words by copyright) and be sufficiently distinctive.

Copyright does not cover separate words, titles, slogans, and some logos.

Copyright covers only exact expressions, and not ideas, procedures, methods of operation or mathematical concepts as such.
 

What rights will I get if my creation is copyrighted?

You will have 2 types of rights:

  1. economic rights, which allow you to get money if someone is using your copyright;
  2. moral rights, your right to be named the author of the creation, for example.

You and only you can allow others to reproduce, record, broadcast and translate your creation.

 

What trademarks are for?

When you plan to use your brand in commerce, in association with actual products or services, the brand needs protection. This protection is obtained by filing a trademark.

This is not free, but this is the only way. A trademark can be a word, title, slogan, or logo. Trademark can’t protect long portions of texts and usually do not protect songs, music, and photos.

What rights a trademark will give me?

So, let's dive deeper into the comparison copyright vs trademark. The main right is to use the trademarked word or logo exclusively in association with the products or service you want to cover. That’s right, others can’t produce similar goods with a similar name.

Let that sink in for a moment.

There is a simple test to determine if you need a trademark or copyright. When you plan to sell your products or services, you should get a trademark. Plan to write a new book? You will need a copyright.

Trademarks are always registered in association with some product or service. They can’t exist without it, they must cover some specific group of goods. There can be a trademark for water, for cars, for banks, but there can’t be a trademark on its own.

So when you plan to sell a particular product - get a trademark. 

That’s a tricky question. In some cases, you will need a trademark AND copyright. You don’t need the mark to cover the name of the book as such, but you might need it if you decide to sell branded products. For example, HARRY POTTER is trademarked and all the books are copyrighted. Star Wars is a trademark and all the films are copyrighted.

But these brands are protected in association with some particular services and products. They are registered for T-shirts, toys, theme parks, apparel, food, etc. They do not exist on their own.

 

The crucial difference between copyright and trademark

We hope that everything is clear now. Trademarks cover words and logos which are used in commerce by companies and individuals, who use them to earn money. Copyright can be used to earn money as well but its original purpose is to protect the rights of creators. The idea behind copyright was to allow the creators to earn by selling copies of their creations (copy-right, now you get it, right?). Normally, copyright covers intangible items: poems, music, photos, code, etc. 

 

Trademarks, however, were intended to protect manufacturers, who produced goods and offered services. They marked their products by placing their name on them or they put it on the sign above their shop. 

 

The brave new world messed up the things a little, now authors own trademarks and companies own copyrights and everything is very different from how it was intended to be. 

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