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Copyrights vs Trademarks: What's the Difference?

Trademark and copyright registrations are both types of intellectual property issued by the government, but they protect very different types of content. Intellectual property can be a tricky field to understand, but navigating it properly can mean the difference between a vicious court battle and enjoying the benefits of your hard work.

Here are some key differences between copyrights and trademarks:

  • Trademarks protect names, terms and symbols that are used to identify the source of goods and/or services on the market. This means that trademarks help consumers distinguish one company’s products/services from another. Trademarks include brand names such as Starbucks and images such as McDonalds’s famous golden arches. As the owner of a federally registered trademark, you can sue for trademark infringement in federal court and prevent the importation of foreign goods that display your trademark.
  • On the other hand, copyrights protect original creative works such as books, movies, songs, paintings, photographs, web content, digital course materials and choreography. As the owner of a federally registered copyright, you can control how your work is reproduced, distributed and presented publicly. You can sue infringers in federal court and prevent others from importing infringing goods.

If you are a creator of books, blog posts, podcast episodes, music, graphics, or any other tangible piece of work, you need to file for copyright protection to protect yourself from copycats. If you have a unique and trademark-worthy business, program, course, event, or product name and/or logo, you may want to consider trademarking it to prevent confusion between your products and services and others.

Do I Need an Attorney to File a Copyright or Trademark Application?

The Copyright Office and USPTO have online services that allow you to register a copyright or trademark yourself, but having an intellectual property attorney is advisable for several reasons:

  • They can do more thorough research on the databases, to be sure you are not using a trademark or copyrighting something someone
  • They know how to get a trademark or copyright registered faster
  • They can help you if you need to file a lawsuit against someone for violation of your copyright or trademark

Copyright and trademark are both important protections and can be used to effectively protect your creations. If you want to learn more about intellectual property, please contact our copyright & trademark lawyer in Largo, Hyattsville & Bowie at Gray Legal, P.C. today.

Call (301) 281-4817 or contact us online for a free consultation.