Intellectual property (IP) is an umbrella term which covers any original products of the mind—inventions, literary pieces, creative works, name, images, or symbols—that are used for commercial purposes. If you are searching for the best means to protect your invention against illegal usage or stealing, you might be wondering whether your product falls under a trademark, copyright, patent, or industrial design. This post will help you understand the main differences between the first two types and how they convey you with intellectual property rights. 

Why You Need to Differentiate Intellectual Properties

Inventors are often confused with the different terminologies used in intellectual property law, and a slight misunderstanding could potentially lead to the product owner battling for his legal rights over the invention in court. 

Moreover, if you fail to understand under which type your creation falls, you risk losing your property rights and jeopardizing your business integrity. 

How Copyrights Differ From Trademarks

Among the highly interchanged terms are trademarks and copyrights. These two inventions differ in purpose and are handled by different federal government offices. 

  • Purpose. While copyright protects works that are creative or intellectual, a trademark is applied to secure a commercial establishment’s name, catchphrase or tagline, and logos. Therefore, authors who create their musical pieces, literary writing, coding software, or other forms of original works would generally apply for copyright protection, whereas companies trying to protect the identity of their brand and the originality of their products would go with a trademark application.
  • Legal Protection Grantor. While copyright applications are managed and granted by the U.S. Copyright Office, trademark protections fall under the management of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. 

A great deal of the confusion between these two types of intellectual properties may have come from misinterpretations in the copyright clause. This is when consulting with an Intellectual Property (IP) attorney becomes important. An IP attorney can help you define IP laws clearly and achieve copyright protections for your original works. 

Protections Granted Under A Copyright

copyright and trademarkCopyright protections are only granted after a thorough creation screening. When you submit your work or product for copyright registration, the U.S. Office shall check whether it meets the following qualifications: it is an original creation, and it has a tangible medium. Regarding the latter, the work should take on a certain form such as but not limited to printed material (books, charts, maps), sculpture or pottery, audiovisual, movie or sound recording, or a software program.

When the original creator’s production meets these criteria, the copyright owner is granted exclusive rights for the printing, distribution, or display of the output. Copyright registration also protects the published work against people who may infringe on it or illegally reproduce the material should it be shown on the internet. 

The best part about the copyright act is the length of effectivity or protection given by copyright. Copyrights outlive their authors as these will stay a few decades after a creator passes away. Even after inventors’ deaths, copyrights continue to provide legal protection when the copyrighted material is performed, displayed, or transmitted on the web. 

Rights Under Trademarks

copyright and trademarkAlthough trademark legislations have been providing protection mostly for commercial establishments, it also protects consumers by ensuring that they would not be misled by a similar business name or image. When you don’t register your trademark, you not only confuse your buyers, but you also risk facing an infringement case should a newer brand with a registered trademark decide to sue you.

If your goal is to differentiate your brand identity with your competitors and ensure that your market stays loyal to you, you should apply for trademark protection. When you register a trademark, other companies are prohibited from using a registered mark. 

Since the process for registering your trademark can get complicated with the existence of multiple brands, a trademark attorney can review your application before submission and assist you in a trademark search. These trademark searches are conducted to check that what you’re registering is not closely similar to something that is already registered. If another business has a similar symbol, chances are, your application will be rejected or revisions would be suggested before the granting of trademark rights. 

You may check the federal trademark database and even specify which state you would like to check for potential close matches to your intended brand name or logos. 

Regardless of where unpublished works or unregistered copyright symbols fall under, both types of intellectual properties can give you and your product a shield against illegal usage or distributions. If you need help understanding or obtaining your intellectual property rights, or if you want to file an infringement claim against a third party who is using your registered property, contact our IP attorneys from War IP Law, PLLC’s at 202-800-3754 and schedule a no-hassle consultation with us today.