What Are the Differences Between a Copyright and Trademark?

What Are the Differences Between a Copyright and Trademark?

When you come up with a great idea, whether for a movie or your business, it’s essential to take the necessary steps to protect your intellectual property. However, you may not know whether you should register your work with the Copyright Office or if it’s better to establish a trademark. Though they seem similar, there are distinct differences in when it’s best to use these protections. If you’re unsure whether copyright or trademark is best for your needs, you’ll want to keep reading. The following blog explores the differences and explains how a Bergen County, NJ intellectual property attorney can help you through the process of protecting your ideas.

How Do a Copyright and Trademark Differ?

While both protect intellectual property, there are significant differences in how these work. The most considerable difference between the two is what can be registered.

Generally, copyright protects original expressions and creations, such as books, movies, or paintings, whereas trademarks protect any distinctive marks associated with your business. For example, Disney owns the copyright to a majority of their characters, meaning no one else can use them unless otherwise permitted by the company. A trademark, on the other hand, is a symbol associated with your business, such as McDonald’s iconic “golden arches.”

There is very little overlap in trademarks and copyright, but they can occur. For example, if you create a logo for your business, you can register it with the Copyright Office while also having trademark protection since it helps protect the reputation of your business.

The other significant difference between a copyright and a trademark is how long their protections last. Generally, copyright will last the entirety of the creator’s life plus an additional seventy years before entering the public domain. A trademark lasts for however long it is in commercial use.

How Do I Set One Up?

If you want to register your work with the United States Copyright Office or the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, it’s in your best interest to enlist the assistance of an experienced attorney to help you through this process.

Not only can an attorney help you register your work, but they can also assist you in taking legal action against those who infringe upon your trademark or copyright. Many are unfamiliar with the process of pursuing compensation for the damages a violation can cause, which makes the help of a lawyer essential.

At the Law Offices of Richard E. Novak, we understand how essential your creations are to your success as an individual or a business. As such, we will do everything in our power to help you navigate the process of protecting your work. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you.