Protecting Your Intellectual Property: Copyright vs. Trademark

Intellectual property is a valuable asset to all types of businesses. It is important to be aware of the different categories of intellectual property, so that you know how to properly protect your creations and brand identity. In this blog, we will discuss two common forms of intellectual property: Copyright and Trademark.


  1. Scope of protection: Copyright protects original works of authorship, such as literary, musical, and artistic creations. Examples of copyrightable works include: authors’ works in books, articles, or poems; artists’ works in paintings or sculptures; or musicians’ compositions or recordings. Copyright protection gives the creator exclusive rights to the use and distribution of their works for a limited period of time.
  2. Rights & Duration: Holders of a copyright enjoy the right to exclusively use, reproduce, distribute, perform, and display the original work. Additionally, the copyright holder is the only one who is legally allowed to create derivative works based on the original copyrighted creation. How long a copyright lasts depends on the type of work being protected, but generally a copyright lasts for the life of the creator plus an additional 70 years.
  3. Registration Process: Copyright immediately arises in a work when it is fixed in a tangible medium of expression. In simple terms, this means rights arise once the work is solidified in a permanent form so that it can be perceived, reproduced, or communicated for more than a short period of time. However, the copyright owner should still register the work with the U.S. Copyright Office for benefits. Registration puts the public on notice that you are using the work and allows you to seek certain types of damages in the event of a lawsuit.


  1. Scope of protection: Trademarks are any word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination of these things that let consumers know the goods or services come from your brand. For example, when someone says they grabbed Starbucks, you immediately recognize where their drink came from. Trademarks protect a company’s brand name, logo, slogan, and other identifiers so that consumers don’t confuse their products for those of a competitor.
  2. Rights & Duration: Trademarks grant holders the exclusive rights to use the mark in connection with the goods or services they provide. Protection of trademarks last indefinitely, so long as the mark is used and renewed in accordance with applicable law.
  3. Registration Process: Trademark rights can arise either from use or registration. To get trademark rights from use, you must use the mark publicly for business or commercial purposes. Alternatively, if registering a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), you will have to file an application. A couple of benefits of registration are that federal law will protect your rights and the public will be on notice that you intend to use the mark with your brand. The first person to use the trademark or file for registration is awarded the legal rights to the mark.

When deciding between copyright or trademark protection, you should think about what you are hoping to protect, the type of protection you are seeking, and how long you would like your idea to be protected. Whether it's the creative content of your work (copyright) or the brand identity associated with your products or services (trademark), choosing the appropriate form of protection is important for ensuring long-term success.

For more information or help protecting your intellectual property, contact Venustas Law!

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