Though they’re inextricably intertwined and often confused with each other, trademark law and copyright law are really two different, distinct areas. In order to properly protect your intellectual property, you need to know the differences. Here’s a quick little tutorial to help.
Trademark laws are laws used to identify and distinguish the source of one party’s goods and services from another’s. Copyright laws are laws used to protect the works of authorship that have been tangibly expressed. In other words, trademark laws protect words, phrases, symbols, and designs. Copyright laws, on the other hand, protect writing, music, art, and performances.
Trademark laws and copyright laws are also enforced similarly, but also differently. Trademark attorneys and trademark holders are the ones who enforce trademarks, while copyright lawyers and copyright holders are the ones who enforce copyrights.
Trademark lawyers prevent other parties from using similar properties commercially — to make money — but not from making or selling the same goods. For example, a trademark lawyer would stop a rival chocolate company from packaging a new product similar to her client’s, but wouldn’t stop the company from making a similar product.
Copyright attorneys protect copyright owners exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, perform, sell, export, and import their works. They also ensure that no other parties make works that could be considered derivative.
Acquiring trademarks and copyrights are also two different processes. To get a trademark, a person need only to hire a corporate law firm or singular trademark lawyer who — for a small fee — will be able to secure them a trademark. Copyrights, on the other hand, need to go through the United States Copyright Office, where an interested party will have to complete an application, and pay a nonrefundable filing fee. Though corporate lawyers can help protect a copyright, they’re of little help filing for one.
Though the two are similar in what they do, trademarks and copyrights are very different in how they’re defined, enforced, and acquired. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments.
Disclaimer: The content above is a discussion of legal issues and general information; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be used as such without seeking professional legal counsel. Reading the content above does not create an attorney-client relationship. All trademarks are the property of L.A. Tech and Media Law Firm or their respective owners. All rights reserved. Refernce materials.