The intellectual property rights that may be applicable to your business is Copyrights and trademarks. Copyrights will protect the art designs. However, it is not a must for you to protect the art if you will later sell it. However, if you feel the need to copyright the art work, you can as well do it.
For the logo and branding, use trademarks. I have explained below everything you need to know about copyrights and trademarks.
What’s the difference between a copyright vs. trademark?
Trademark and copyright are both forms of intellectual property, which can be defined as intangible assets, in other words, creations of the mind such as inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, symbols, names and images used in commerce.
When it comes to intellectual property for businesses, this can largely encompass any business ideas, as well as works or processes that come from those ideas. This being said, in the U.S., trademarks and copyrights, as well as patents, are used to legally protect intellectual property.
The main difference, therefore, between copyright vs. trademark is that, although both offer intellectual property protection, they protect different types of assets and have different registration requirements.
Overall, copyright protects literary and artistic materials and works, such as Arts.
A trademark, on the other hand, protects items that help define a company brand, such as a business logo or slogan, and require more extensive registration through the government for the greatest legal protections.
To better understand the difference, let’s break down the details of each of these protections individually.
What Copyrights Protect
A copyright is a form of intellectual property protection that covers original works and is generated automatically by the creation of those works.
Copyright protects literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works.
In short, as long as the original work is preserved in some form, it is protected under copyright when it’s created.
In the U.S. the duration of copyright can vary. For original works created by an individual, copyright lasts for the life of the author, plus 70 years. On the other hand, works created anonymously, pseudonymously (under a false name), and for hire, copyright lasts for 95 years from the date of publication or 120 years from the date of creation, whichever is shorter.
Use the copyright symbol: At a minimum, you can use the © symbol to denote a copyrighted work.
Additionally, although not required, you might decide to actually register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office. To do so, you’ll have to complete the application process which includes paying a fee and sending a copy of the work to the U.S. Copyright Office in order to officially register for your copyright.
Completing this process will add your copyright to the public record, and you’ll receive a certificate of registration. Plus, if registration is completed within five years of publication, it is also considered prima facie evidence (i.e. sufficient to prove a case) in a court of law.
Overall, official copyright registration will make it much easier to sue over the use of your materials by another party under United States’ law.
What trademarks protect
A trademark, on the other hand, is a form of intellectual property protection that covers words, phrases, symbols, or designs that distinguish a particular brand (or source of goods) in comparison to others.
Therefore, a trademark protects items such as:
In short, a trademark can apply to anything that essentially brands a business or identifies a product or company.
All of this being said, another important difference between copyright vs. trademark is that whereas copyrights expire after a set period, trademarks do not expire.
Trademark rights come from actual use in other words, using your mark in the course of doing business and therefore, your trademark can last forever, as long as you continue to use it.
How to protect a trademark
You can complete an online application yourself through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website.
For example, if you want to trademark your business name, you would check with your state trademark office to make sure the name is not currently in use, and then complete the registration process. Along these lines, it’s important to note that there’s a difference between state and federal trademark registration, with the latter offering the most legal protection.
Moreover, when it comes to a business name specifically, you can register a business name with your state or county clerk by filing a DBA, but this is not the same as trademarking your business name.
Ultimately, if you do register your trademark with the USPTO, you’ll use the registered trademark symbol “®” to indicate that your property is legally trademarked.
On the other hand, if your trademark is not registered through the USPTO, you can use the ™ symbol to signify common-law rights in a trademark, similar to the way copyright law works. In this case, ™ is used for goods, whereas ℠ is used for services.
Again, before using these symbols, you’ll want to make sure what your trademarking isn’t already in use and remember, just because something doesn’t have a symbol by it doesn’t mean it’s not legally trademarked.
The bottom line
As a reminder, the differences can be summarized as:
Copyright protects original work, whereas a trademark protects items that distinguish or identify a particular business from another.
Copyright is generated automatically upon the creation of original work, whereas a trademark is established through common use of a mark in the course of business.
Copyright expires after a set period of time, whereas a trademark doesn’t expire provided the mark continues to be used.
Overall, both of these intellectual property protections can be important if they’re applicable to your business.
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