What is the Difference Between a Trademark and a Copyright?
If you have your own business that you want to protect or if you recently produced a piece of work that you want to ensure others do not unfairly profit from, you might be considering whether a trademark or copyright is appropriate for your needs. First, it is important to know that trademarks and copyrights are not the only terms that you need to know in this category. You should also be considering a “service mark,” depending upon your particular needs. At Perkins Pershes, PLLC, we regularly assist clients with trademark and copyright registration in Boca Raton, Florida, and throughout the United States. We want to share the following information about the distinctions among trademarks, service marks, and copyrights.
Similarities Among Trademarks, Service Marks, and Copyrights
As the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) explains, trademarks, service marks, and copyrights are all designed to protect the intellectual property of individuals, businesses, and entities. In other words, if you have a valid trademark, service mark, or copyright and someone else uses your intellectual property without your permission or without compensation, you may be able to file an infringement claim.
At the same time, it is important to know that these terms are also very different from one another, and a person or business cannot decide whether it has a trademark, service mark, or copyright that it wants to register. Rather, the nature of the work or the thing will determine what you have. Here is some additional information.
Distinguishing Among the Terms
First, it is important to know how a trademark and a service mark are both similar to and different from one another. Trademarks and service marks are both made up of a “word, phrase, symbol, or design,” yet they are used for different purposes. A trademark, according to the USPTO, is “a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.” Differently, a service mark is “a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than the goods.” To be clear, these terms differ depending upon whether your business offers goods or services. The USPTO offers the following as common examples of trademarks and service marks:
- Brand name;
- Slogan; and/or
A copyright is very different. Whereas a business might seek to register a trademark or service mark to prevent another business from unfairly profiting from its brand name or slogan, a copyright protects original works that a person or entity has authored. Works that may be eligible for copyright protection include, for instance, literary works, dramatic works, musical works, and other types of artistic or creative works. Examples of works for which authors or creators frequently seek copyright protection include but are not limited to the following according to the USPTO:
- Novels or works of poetry;
- Architectural works; and
- Computer software.
Contact a Boca Raton Intellectual Property Lawyer for Assistance
If you have questions about protecting the intellectual property of your business, an experienced Boca Raton trademark registration attorney at our firm can help you. We can assist with trademark and copyright registration throughout the United States, and we can discuss other IP issues that may be relevant to you. Contact Perkins Pershes, PLLC today for more information.