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What is the Difference Between Copyright and Trademark

trademark vs copyright

The number of applications for trademark registration boosted in recent years. claims that in 2021, over 13,928,200 businesses worldwide applied for their trademark registration. In Europe, since the creation of the EU Trademark, as an authority, the number of applications for trademark registrations has grown consistently, with the mark of 200,000 applications in 2021.  When you run a business or are an author of some art piece, literary work, music, or software product, it can be dramatic if someone uses the fruits of your labour for their profit. That is what trademarks and copyrights protect you from. But still, there are a couple of distinctive features crucial for these two forms of intellectual property protection. So, let’s discuss the difference and compare trademark vs copyright.

Understanding Trademarks

Trademarks are among the most popular forms of intellectual property used by businesses. In the following paragraphs, let’s look closer at what are trademarks and how they help in intellectual property protection goals.

What is Trademarking

 As the name of a trademark says, it refers to trading. That is the form of intellectual property businesses use to make their goods or services distinctive and boost brand awareness in the market. Trademarking is applied for the protection of brands’ identity symbols. These could be logos and images, phrases and brand names which strictly associate with a particular company or trader. Probably, you can momentarily understand what company owns a legendary Golden Arch logo, and a very special font of Coca-Cola’s logo is well-known around the world. Moreover, even your car’s brand logo on the boot is a trademark!

trademark, Trademark vs. Copyright
Source: Unsplash

Requirements for Trademark Registration

One of the most apparent differences between trademark and copyright is the requirements for registration. For trademarks, the most crucial ones are as follows:

  • The trademark should be distinctive and unique. You have to ensure that no one else registered the same TM in your country or the EU.
  • Trademarks can be applied only to the property of companies which sell something.
  • You have to register a trademark in every country you are going to operate with it. In the EU, you can use a one-fit-all registration, but for other regions, you need to apply for a trademark registration separately.
  • Trademarks can be monetised most often by franchising arrangements (McDonald’s, Pizza Hut) . That doesn’t refer to copyrights and that is one more difference between TM and copyright.

How Long Does it Take to Register Trademark

The process of registration for a trademark is not a one-day task. On average, in the EU, it takes from 4 to 5 months to acquire the rights for a trademark. In the US, the process is long and takes over a year for approval. In other regions, it depends on the laws of a particular country.

Why Register a Trademark

Of course, you can run your business without any trademarks. In the case when you are producing original goods, services, materials, or other assets, it can come in handy in the following cases:

  • When you want your product or brand to be unique and not to mistake it for other, similar products and brands.
  • When you want to avoid fraud cases like selling goods under your brand or similarly looking brand.
  • When you want to guarantee your interests’ protection in court when suing someone who uses your brand identity or sells your products illegally.

In these cases, a registered trademark is doubtless proof of your rights.

If you’re looking for assistance registering your trademark, contact Chern & Co. Our experts will help you pick and register a trademark in Ireland, the UK, and the United States.

Understanding Copyrights

Then to clarify the difference between copyright and trademark, let’s focus on what is copyright.

What is Copyright 

Copyright is an intellectual property type which is applied to texts, music, video and motion production, movies, and software products which are original and owned by their creator. To get clear about what is copyright vs trademark, let’s highlight the main objects copyright protects:

  • Long texts. While trademarks can be applied for slogans and company names, copyright protects longer texts of any type i.e. books, scenarios, blog posts, scientific articles, even cooking recipes if they are texted.
  • Music. Each song, melody, or even a musical sample is owned by its composer if it has a copyright.
  • Video products including movies, cartoons, advertisements, or educational videos. You can apply the copyright to your vlog as well.
  • Art pieces of all kinds, including digital art pieces and designs.
  • Software products and scientific research products if they are fixed in a tangible medium.
  • Architecture and designs.

You can provide a copyright for any original work of your mind if it is available in a comprehensive form (i.e., ideas and words if they are not recorded cannot be copyrighted).

Requirements for Copyright Registration

One more feature which shows what is a copyright vs trademark is the set of requirements for copyright obtaining. Your work needs to be:

  • Original,
  • Creative,
  • Available in a tangible medium.
copyright, Trademark vs. Copyright
Source: Unsplash

How Long Does it Take to Register Copyright

Copyright obtaining is automatic in the EU. Since you publish your piece of work anywhere, you acquire rights for it as a creator. You can apply some kind of protection for it like watermarks, signatures, or at least the copyright symbol ©. Formally, you do not need to register it, but in reality, it is worth applying for the registration. There are companies which offer free licenses for copyrighting to provide proof of your author’s rights on the intellectual property.

Reasons to File Copyright Application

Copyright owners benefit from several exclusive rights as the right to reproduce the work, perform and display the work publicly, and distribute the copies. The reasons why you need to get an officially proven copyright for your original work are quite the same as for trademarks. So, in this feature, there is no trademark/copyright difference.

Differences Between Trademarks and Copyrights – Comparison Table

To make some distinctive summaries on what is the difference between copyright and trademark, let’s list their main features in the table.

Subject of protectionShort texts, logos, and distinctive brand identity items.Original works including art, music, texts, scientific articles and research, design pieces, and software products.
Requirements for Registration– Uniqueness, – Distinctive essence which embodies the brand– Originality and creativity- Availability in a tangible medium form
How long does it take to registerFrom 4 months in the EUInstantly
Term of protectionLimitless, until the trademark is usedDuring the lifetime of the author +70 years after their death
Rights grantedSelling, and promoting goods and services provided under the trademarkProperty rights

Wrapping up on Trademark vs Copyright

Summarising, what’s the difference between copyright and trademark:

  • Trademark is used for brand logos and identity by businesses to sell their goods and services under a well-recognised name. Copyright is used for unique masterpieces to prove authorship.
  • Trademarks and copyright serve the same idea – to protect intellectual rights, but they are used in different circumstances. Yet, you may need to get both trademark and copyright if your business has its branded name, and you provide original intellectual products, i.e., software.
  • You obtain copyright right after publishing your work. To get a trademark, you need to apply for state authorities’ registration.

Yet, getting an official copyright or trademark is beneficial for businesses and creators, as they both protect your rights and prove your property’s origin. You can get them with ease if you apply for the services of experienced attorneys. Just get consulted to understand which intellectual property protection meets your business needs.

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