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The Differences Between a Trademark and Copyright

A trademark and copyright are each different types of intellectual property protection, which aim to prevent unauthorized use. Though similar, each protects a varying type of asset. Companies have the right to pursue legal action against any party or individual who uses their intellectual property without permission—as this is illegal. 

What does intellectual property mean?
To clarify, intellectual property includes works, blueprints, developments, graphics, or designs that were created or are owned by a corporation or business. This can be all written documents or artistic works such as logos.

What do copyrights and trademarks protect?
As stated above, while both offer intellectual property protection, they protect different types of assets. If you are a musician, author, filmmaker or similar artist then you will want to choose copyright to protect your work. Copyright is geared toward literary and artistic works, such as books and videos. 

If you are trying to protect your business or brand, then you will want to use a trademark to protect your intellectual property. A trademark protects items which help establish a company brand, such as the logo. 

Often times, a corporation will need to use both a trademark and copyright. Here’s an example; a music company may want to trademark their name and logo and copyright the songs by their respective recording artists.

How to get a trademark or copyright for your company
Just because the intellectual property was created does not mean it is automatically under the protection of the law. To benefit from the protection of intellectual property laws, you must first register your company’s work at the United States Patent and Trademark Office or the United States Copyright Office. Which office you use depends on the type of property you want to protect. It is recommended you seek legal counsel before pursuing either of these courses of action.

What rights and privileges does a copyright holder possess?
After a copyright is obtained, the recipient holds the exclusive right to reproduce the original creation and create similar works. An example would be a new song featuring a sample of the original or a sequel to a film which uses the same characters, etc. 
A copyright holder can also transfer complete or partial rights to the material. Example: a publisher may allow a journal or magazine to print an excerpt from an author’s novel.
At Ramey and Flock, we have been practicing corporate law for decades, and several of our lawyers specialize in intellectual property laws. If you have further questions or require legal counsel in regards to intellectual property law then contact one of our attorneys today.


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