Hello, Trademark Soup
Yes, I have an amazing name for my new company and I would like to copyright it!
Have you ever had this conversation? I have heard it all too often and its worth taking a few minutes to help unpack and understand the difference between copyrights and trademarks.
Let’s begin with how they are similar. Both fall under an area of the law called “intellectual property” or IP. These are creations of the mind. They both grant their owners with certain rights to control how they are used and monetized.
A copyright is a “right” owned by a creator in their song, screenplay, book, computer program, database and other creative endeavors. Such rights are gained by capturing the creative “original” idea in some “tangible medium” such as sketching a doodle on a napkin or recording a song idea on your phone. Once these elements come together you have a valid and protectable copyright.
Trademarks are words, designs, slogans, colors and even sounds that are used to distinguish goods and services in the market place. They are not the actual goods and services, but help the public identify them and distinguish them from one another. For example, Coke and Pepsi are both soft drinks that consumers often find side by side on the grocery shelf, but the words and designs (and even bottle shapes) that make up the packaging for each have developed brand loyalty with consumers who readily choose one beverage over another.
So, if you develop the next killer iPhone app and want to protect it, remember that copyright is going to help you protect the underlying computer code and graphical designs. When it comes to protecting the amazingly unique name and logo for your app, then trademark rights are what you are looking to establish and protect.
If you need help with either, please give us a call!