One important first step toward protecting a piece of intellectual property is determining which type of protection is the best fit for the work involved. Is copyright or trademark protection the right fit for your intellectual property?
What type of intellectual property does each protect?
Copyright registration protects various creative works, including books, plays, music, art, architecture and other intellectual works. The copyright holder has the right to determine how the public interacts with the work, including distributing copies of the copyrighted work, displaying it and reproducing it.
On the other hand, Trademark protection protects the words, images, colors, and other details surrounding a company’s brand. These branding elements might include the business’s name, the logo and colors used for its branded images and packaging, and its slogan. Trademark protection protects your right to use those elements of the brand. It prevents others from damaging your brand through unauthorized use of your trademark.
When is each form of intellectual property established?
When a business or individual creates a work, their copyright is automatically established at that time. However, creators must register that copyright to protect their ownership of the work in court.
Trademarks, on the other hand, must undergo a registration process. Companies must also make ongoing use of their trademarks and be consistent to maintain this protection.
When do these protections expire?
Copyright protection in the United States lasts for 70 years after the death of the original creator. The copyright holder cannot renew this protection.
Trademark protection does not expire provided the trademark is under continuous use and the company periodically renews its registration. A trademark does not expire, provided the business continues to use the trademark.
By examining the details of the work you want to protect, you can determine the type of intellectual property protection that best fits your need.