Trademark vs Copyright: The Ultimate Comparison

Trademark, Copyright

Both trademarks and copyrights are vital tools that can protect your intellectual property. However, knowing the things that you need for this can be quite confusing. That is because intellectual property is a field that is tricky to understand. Once you navigate it properly, you can quietly enjoy the fruits of your labors in creativity instead of waging a vicious battle in court for the protection of your legal interests. 

What is a Trademark? 

A trademark is a sign that distinguishes an enterprise's goods or services from what other enterprises provide. Intellectual property rights protect trademarks. A trademark is an intellectual property that consists of a recognizable design, expression, or sign that identifies a particular source's services or products from others. Trademarks used for the identification of services are often referred to as service marks. The owner of a trademark can be any legal entity, like a business organization or an individual. You can find a trademark on the product, voucher, label, or package. Frequently, trademarks are displayed on company buildings for corporate identity, and people legally recognize them as a type of intellectual property. Because of the importance of having a trademark, the total number of trademark applications have steadily increased for decades.

What is a Copyright?

Copyright is a classification of intellectual property that allows its owner to exclusively have the right to create copies of a creative work, that is often for just a limited period. This innovative work can be in the form of music, educational, literary, or music. The copyright intends to protect an idea's original expression that comes in the form of creative work and is not the idea in itself. It can be subject to limitations considering public interest, like the United States' fair use doctrine. Some jurisdictions require copyrighted works to be "fixed" in a tangible form. It often gets shared among numerous authors. Each holds a set of rights to license or use the work, so they are commonly called the rights holders. Frequently, these rights include control over distribution, derivative works, moral rights like attribution, reproduction, and public performance. Public law can grant copyrights, so they are considered as "territorial rights." Because of that, copyrights that law granted to a specific state would not extend beyond that particular jurisdiction's territory. These kinds of copyrights may be different depending on the country. Many countries and, sometimes, a large group of nations has created agreements with other countries when it comes to the applicable procedures whenever works get to "cross" national rights or borders. However, they are mostly inconsistent. 

Typically, according to public law, the duration of copyright would expire fifty to a hundred years after the creator's death. It may depend on the jurisdiction. In certain countries, certain formalities in copyright are required to establish copyright. Others recognize the copyright of any completed work without the need for formal registration. However, it is generally better to have a long duration of copyright as this guarantee works to get better protection. 

Whenever a work's copyright expires, it would enter the public domain. 

What does a trademark protect?  

A trademark is a design, symbol, word, phrase, or combination that distinguishes and identifies the source of goods from a party from others. Typically, trademarks protect the logos and names or brands that are used on services and goods. The copyright gives protection to an original literary or artistic work. A business can protect their goods or services from reputational damage or infringement by a different company with a trademark. Once you have a trademark, you can have the legal recourse to put a company under litigation whenever it uses your likeness for its business ventures. Both unregistered and registered trademarks are included here. 

Overall, a trademark is a phrase, design, word, symbol, or combination of these that helps the customers identify a specific product. The service mark is like this. However, it pertains to a service instead of the goods. Both marks get protected when they are used, and this includes both unregistered and registered trademarks. 

What does a copyright protect?  

Copyright is intellectual property law in a form that protects original authorship works that include artistic, dramatic, musical, and literary works like architecture, poetry, computer software, songs, movies, and novels. Having a copyright will not protect methods of operation, ideas, systems, or facts, but it can protect how these things are expressed. 

When to get a trademark?  

When it comes to trademarks, the best strategy is to think about it from the very start. It is ideally best to do this when you are forming your business entity and choosing a name and logo for your business. 

When to get a copyright?  

By doing a Trademark Search, you can establish a strong brand. Since the name of your business can form your brand's core, it can also create serious issues in trademark. Whenever you choose a name that is very much like any existing trademark, you may not be allowed to have your trademark registered in the USPTO (The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office). The owner of the trademark could threaten to file a lawsuit if you continue using their brand name. Because of this, your name can lose recognition, and you can potentially spend so much money on new labels, marketing campaigns, signs, and everything else needed in rebranding your business. 

How to register a trademark? 

At a regional or national level, you can obtain trademark protection through filing an application to register with the regional or national trademark office and paying the fees required. Internationally, there are two options for this. You can either file a trademark application at the trademark office of every country you want to seek protection or use the Madrid System of the WIPO. 

How to register a copyright?  

Here are the steps on how you can register a copyright: 

  1. Once you create a definitive version of your creative work, you can immediately get copyright protection for it. These are automatic protections that may not require registration with any copyright office. 
  2. However, if you want to enforce your copyright in case there is a copyright infringement lawsuit, you need to have your copyright registered with a copyright office. You should do this within three months after you publish your work or three months when you find out that someone has infringed on your work. 
  3. When the copyright office gets to approve your application, you will get a copyright certificate through the mail after three to four months. 
  4. However, it cannot be possible to get an "international copyright" that can automatically protect the writings of an author anywhere in the world. Getting protection against any unauthorized use would depend on the country's national laws. A lot of countries provide protection to any foreign work under specific conditions that the international copyright treaties and conventions have simplified. According to the Berne Convention, in most countries, you can automatically obtain copyright protection without having to register. 
  5. Nonetheless, there is a system in place for most countries that allows works to undergo voluntary registration. Through voluntary systems of registration, it can solve any dispute over creation or ownership and help in facilitating the transfer and/or assignment of rights, sales, and financial transactions. Take note that there is no searchable database of copyrights or a system for copyright registration at the WIPO. 

Digip provides the best legal technology for brands to globally secure trademark rights. With the Digip platform, customers can have more than a 95% success rate on their trademark applications. Because of that, Digip is highly recommended in copyright and trademark registration. Book a meeting with Digip to know more about our services.