Copyrights and trademarks both help protect your intellectual property but it can be confusing to figure out which one you should use and when. This article will help you understand the differences between copyrights and trademarks.

As a business owner, you need to protect your brand’s assets such as your business’ name, products’ names, logo, and tagline.

Let’s take a closer look at what copyrights and trademarks protect, which one is right for you, and how to get it.

Copyrights and Trademarks: What Are They?

The key difference between copyrights and trademarks is the type of intellectual property protection each of them provides.

Copyrights

A copyright is a form of intellectual property law, which protects original works of authorship, including artistic, literary, musical, dramatic, architectural, and intellectual works.

It does not protect brand names, titles, slogans, short phrases, facts, ideas, concepts, systems, or methods of doing something. However, you can copyright an artistic logo that contains sufficient authorship.

Copyright protection is available for both published and unpublished works. The copyright holder of the work retains the exclusive right to print, display, publish (online), and distribute the work.

Trademarks

Trademarks cover and protect business’ names, slogans, logos, and other brand identity assets that consumers may use to recognize your brand in the marketplace.

However, if you want to obtain trademark rights, the name should be sufficiently unique to your company and products. You can’t trademark generic terms such as “coffee” or “computers.”

Differences Between Copyrights and Trademarks

To make it easier for you to understand, we’ve simplified the differences between copyrights and trademarks here:

Copyrights

Trademarks

Protect creative or intellectual works.Protect brand names, phrases, and logos.
Protect the rights of people who create artistic, literary, musical, dramatic, and intellectual work.Protect the legal rights of using a company’s name, brand identity, and slogans.
Registering a copyright is not mandatory to have copyright protection. Using the copyright symbol © along with the year of work creation/first publication and the author’s name signifies the copyright.

However, copyright law provides advantages to those who file legal copyright for their works.

You can start using the ™ symbol for common law usage of a name or logo.

However, you need to properly register a trademark with the USPTO to use the ® symbol.

Granted and managed by the U.S. Copyright Office.Granted and managed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Cost $45-$125 for single-author works.

Cost $85 for registration in a group of contributions of works.

Additional charges for retrievals, copies, and special services.

Cost $250-$350 per class of goods/services based on your selected filing basis and initial application form.

Additional fees and after mark registers may cost $100-$525 per class.

Can’t perform copyright search.Free online trademark search available on the USPTO website.
Help prevent unwanted copying from others.Help prevent others from using it commercially in the marketplace.

 

Before you decide to copyright or trademark your brand’s name, logo, and creative work, make sure that you have proper business formation documents and licenses.

GovDocFiling offers quick, hassle-free, and cost-effective filing services to help entrepreneurs start, build, and grow their businesses more conveniently. We also email you all necessary business formation documents.

You can have our experts form an LLC, Corporation, or any other entity type for your business. Enjoy the benefits of expedited application processing at no additional cost.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is it better to copyright or trademark a logo?

Businesses use both copyrights and trademarks to protect their logos from undesired use.

While a copyright can protect your logo against all unlicensed copying of artwork (outside of fair use), a trademark deals with the use of the logo that causes confusion in your company’s marketplace.

In some cases, you can also protect an artistic logo as a trademark.

As a business owner, it is more important to trademark your logo than to copyright it.

2. Should I trademark or copyright my clothing line?

You should trademark the name, tagline, and logo of your clothing line. However, you can copyright artistic patterns and clothing designs that are unique and original works of authorship.

3. What can I trademark in the United States?

You can trademark a name, symbol, color, slogan, logo, or anything that distinguishes your brand’s assets and products from those of other companies in the marketplace.

For example, the famous shoe brand, Nike, holds multiple trademarks, including:

  • Their famous swoosh symbol
  • The phrase, “just do it”
  • Their brand name

Trademark registration ensures that other companies cannot use their name, slogan, and symbol in any branding or marketing collateral.

4. How much will it cost to trademark my logo?

The average cost to trademark a logo with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is $225-$600.

5. Is a trademark necessary?

A trademark is not necessary but it is a crucial step to protect your brand’s identity. It will help prevent your competitors from poaching your customers by imitating your brand’s logo and name.

Ready to Protect Your Intellectual Properties with Copyrights and Trademarks?

Copyrights and trademarks are both important protections to secure your rights on products, brand identity, and artistic creations. We hope this article helped you understand the scope of your rights to copyright or trademark your work.

Do you have questions about the differences between copyrights and trademarks? Or, do you need help filing your business formation documents correctly? Feel free to get in touch with our experts in the comments below.

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