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Trademark vs. Copyright

Intellectual property can be any mental creation, valuable to the business or brand. From a financial standpoint, that particular piece of property is an intangible asset that can get you revenue for the business as it can be licensed for trade.

So why should you bear such a loss by not getting it registered?

To think that you can never fall for a copyright or trademark scam or find yourself in a similar situation where somebody is out to get your creative idea or intellectual property is denying reality. You would not want to be a victim in such a situation. Thus, as tricky as this field of protecting your original work might be, navigating it legally is necessary, and it is recommended to do so with the help of professional guidance.

According to the statistics published on the World Intellectual Property Organization or WIPO, marking the end of 2019, China has surpassed the US as the top source of international patent applicant country to have filed with WIPO as a part of their intellectual property growth over the year. This piece of information clearly tells us that legally registering your brand or company name, your designs, or any associated original works is important.

Trademark vs Copyright: What's the Difference?

One of the more obvious questions that arise when people set out on the legal route of protecting their distinct creations is the difference between copyrights and trademarks. Many people get confused between the two terms, as both are a form of intellectual property.

Thus, let's find out the key differences between the two so that you can easily tell them apart.


Copyright is something that businesses used to protect an original creation that is made into a tangible form and is a communicated work that must be published to be available for others to see, hear, or touch.

You might want to ensure that your copyright is insured sooner rather than later. Because what happens when someone violates your copyright? Even worse, what happens if you unwillingly violate someone else’s copyright?

You’d wish you had some kind of business insurance for that, but it’ll be too late.

Of course, the cost of insurance for your business doesn't have to be too high but making sure you protect your intellectual property rights is essential.

The Copyright Law

Copyright is the more clear-cut of the two intellectual property protections. It is managed and granted by the US Copyright Office that specifically works as per the outlined article of section 8 that is called the “Copyright Clause.” The founders of this clause formally recognized the need for protection rights that protect an original intellectual creation or a derivative of one, be it work of art, writing, poetry or any other expressive medium. The rights were granted to the poets, authors, painters, and musicians back in the day to claim the property as their own.

Somewhere along with those similar rules, we have copyright laws working to this day. Today, the copyright protection laws give the holder of the work an exclusive right to print, display, share, distribute and perform the work as per their own terms and conditions that they may state in their registered warrant. As the internet is now more responsible for distributing our work,

Most Targeted Websites Copyright Complaints
Source: Statista

Original Intellectual Property Protection

In order for you to warrant copyright protection, your work must be original. Because most of the distribution takes place on the internet now thanks to technology, the copyright holder can publish and transmit their work on the internet with this right. It would also allow you to get it removed from any platform where you haven't permitted the publication.

According to the Council of the European Union that recently approved the EU Copyright Directive, they required a broader reform to cover the original works being shared on the internet. Their directive is aimed at modernizing EU copyright rules as per the needs of the modern times as part of its Digital Single Market strategy. It attempts to enhance the experience of original work being legally shared across borders for improved opportunities in education, research, and to maintain cultural heritage.

Derivative Title Law

A derivative title law is specifically in place to protect the rights of derivative works where the creator of the original work transfers the rights to a new owner. It differs from the original title in a way that the original title law adheres to the intellectual property which must be unqualified and unlimited. As nobody else other than the creator and owner has the right to it, they have the whole right to dispose of it.   In comparison, the derivative title law works when the person from whom the right is acquired may not give unlimited right and may even share or convey the right with reservations.


Copyrights are granted to last for a lifetime. That lifetime is of the copyright holder in case of that person being the author or original creator of the intellectual property. In addition to that, it also extends to it being performed, displayed, and shared across the web.


As old as the concept of trademarking is, the legalities of trademarking are relatively new to copyrighting. To put it simply, trademarking is a protected right for businesses and anything that might be financially valuable to it. Trademarking is nothing more or less to protect the commercial interests of companies that may or may not be licensed to sell. From a brand's name, slogan, or logo to anything that might uniquely represent it and differentiates it from other brands in the industry is a trademark.

Trademark Application and Review

The USPTO is comprehensive with their process of trademarking. According to the statistics published on Statista, the number of trademark registrations in the US for both local and overseas brands exceeded an approximate of 813,000 to be successfully registered as a US operating company. Now, these figures easily represent that given the process of trademarking is very specific, it is definitely worth it. Aside from ensuring that your brainchild remains yours legally, trademarking makes sure it is as unique as possible to avoid any future claims of you ripping off from a bigger, more popular brand.

Numbers of US Trademark Registrations Graph

Trademark Protection and Patenting

Many people worry about how they would be able to conduct such a wide search to find if they are not taking up any similarities whatsoever from a preexisting brand. It is worth the cost to invest in a professional that conducts extensive search even across borders to let you know that your intellectual property protection belongs to you.

The next logical step is acquiring a patent. One of the biggest examples of such a situation would be of Taco Bell. The famous restaurant chain has a tilted bell as its logo, and it is one of the most notable and widely recognized logos globally. Now the patent that the restaurant chain has acquired long ago gives them the authoritarian license that confers the right for the extended time only to the sole business owners. It excludes everybody else from making, using, selling even an extended copy of the logo.


A term of a federally registered trademark is ten years. USPTO says that granting a 10-year renewal time period keeps the system updated about which trademarks are still in use. They specifically ask for an official affidavit stating within the 5th and 6th year of the process that the mark is in use. If the company fails to provide one, its registration is automatically cancelled.

Frequently Asked Questions

Abiding by the law and pertaining to rules is necessary. But to fulfill your duties as a law-abiding citizen, you must understand the legalities of it first. Things may lead to confusion from time to time, and processes can be complicated. Thus, here we have compiled the few commonly asked questions when it comes to copyrights and trademarks and registration of your intellectual property.

1.    How do I register for a trademark?

Trademarks and Service Marks that apply to the services like assignment writing service, almost all of the goods and services have to be registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office that is the USPTO. However, in comparison to copyrights, if you legally want to enforce a trademark, it has to be registered. There are even specific symbols that differentiate your domain while it is in the process of being trademarked to finally being a registered trademark. 

2.    How do I register for copyright?

Copyrights have to register with the US Copyright Office that manages and grants them. It is not formally required to register a copyright to be able to enforce it legally. Instead, you can use a copyright symbol that is globally recognized to understand that a property is copyrighted.

3.    What works cannot be copyrighted?

Sometimes understand what can be copyrighted can be complicated as it is a different side of the same coin. For example, you can copyright a recipe, but you have no authority over the ingredients or the set of directions. Confusing, isn't it? Similarly following are the works that cannot be copyrighted:

  • Any work that doesn't get fixed in a tangible form like a speech that doesn't get recorded or written out.
  • Titular names, names of people, short phrases and slogans cannot be copyrighted.
  • Generic symbolism, designs or typographic variations like specific font or color cannot be copyrighted.
  • Any idea, a methodology, system, process, concept, discovery or procedure behind a creative material cannot be copyrighted.
  • Works that fall under the public domain like historical facts, measurement conversions and calculus cannot be copyrighted.

4.    If I can't copyright it, can I trademark it instead?

Some of the pointer mentioned above can be trademarked if not copyrighted. For example, you can easily trademark a slogan, short phrase or titular name along with a logo. A trademark can range from being just a word, name, symbol, or even a combination of any of these that are used to distinguish the property from another in a similar market domain. According to recent statistics about branding, brands have spent a whopping $200 million on their logo designs. Now, after spending that much amount on a logo that distinguishes your brand, you would not like it to be claimed by somebody else. Therefore, you can go as far as even trademarking the name of your product so that nobody else uses the same name even if they manage to produce the same product.

5.    Can I trademark a business name?

As a business owner, if you consider trademarking the name for your company, there are other legal pointers that you need to check first. Like, checking with the state to know if nobody else has a business with the same name. Once confirmed, register your business name with your state. Now you are free to trademark it as per your liking.

6.    How can I tell if my trademark would be accepted?

The Trademark Office says that the main qualifier for any domain name to be successfully trademarked is that it shouldn't be easily confused with another. The more unique it is, the better. For instance, as we even discussed earlier, a derivative name like Party Starter or derivative works like historical accounts cannot be trademarked because it is a commonly used phrase. It could easily be confused an already existing, preconceived notions about people who like to party. However, the same rule doesn't need to apply globally. What you can't trademark here, you might be able to any other of the world.

Bottom Line

All in all, no matter which of the two, whether copyright or trademark works for your brand name, logo, book, music album, film or painting. Both of these intellectual property protection types work in your favor. That should be enough to convince you to abide by a law that protects your rights pertaining to what belongs to you. It is essential to understand that the legal battle of distributing the rights with someone who had nothing to do with your work is going to be more complicated than the actual filing procedure to get legally registered right from the start in your own name.

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About The Author

Claudia Jeffrey is currently working as a Linguistic Assistant at Crowd Writer. Having taken a law major in college, she is quite the expert when it comes to legal issues of brands. She operates as a freelance law advisor on the side of her primary profession.

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