Trademarks or copyrights: Which one is right for you?

While trademarks and copyrights are both crucial instruments for safeguarding your intellectual property, determining which one you actually need can be challenging.

Understanding intellectual property may be challenging, but doing it correctly can mean the difference between fighting tooth and nail in court to defend your legal rights and peacefully enjoying the results of your creative efforts.

Copyrights and trademarks are two of the most often misunderstood intellectual property rights. It’s crucial that you comprehend the distinction between the two if your organization involves producing distinctive things to be sold in the market.

Copyrights and trademarks defined

Differentiated works are protected by copyrights and trademarks. In general, copyrights safeguard artistic creations, whereas trademarks cover company names, phrases, and logos.

The rights of those who produce original literary, theatrical, musical, artistic, and occasionally other works (such as history tests and software code) are largely protected by copyright laws.

The use of a company’s name, product names, brand identification (such as logos), and slogans can all be protected by trademarks.

The two safeguards are actually administered by two different departments within the federal government since they are so legally distinct from one another.

While the U.S. Copyright Office grants copyrights, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is responsible for trademarks.

Copyright protections explained

Copyright protection is the more certain, though not more straightforward, of the two intellectual property rights.

The Constitution of the United States clearly mentions copyright protection. The founding fathers explicitly recognized a set of rights defending writers and their numerous forms of creative expression in Article I Section 8 of the Constitution, sometimes known as the “Copyright Clause.”

That is complex, if that makes sense.

Even while they meant to safeguard artistic creations, their statements left a lot of copyright law open to interpretation.

Since that time, policymakers and courts have worked to make the rules governing copyright protection more explicit.

In addition, academics have spent years and numerous volumes trying to understand the intricate web that has grown through time.

Copyright building blocks

Fortunately, a person may comprehend his fundamental rights under copyright by understanding a few simple building elements that make up the majority of the foundational material.


The term “copyright protection” refers to the exclusive right to print, exhibit, distribute, and perform an original work that has been granted copyright protection. The work may also be published and transmitted on the Internet alone by the holder.


A work must be original in order to justify copyright protection.

Tangible medium

A work that is protected by copyright needs to be “fixed in a tangible medium of expression.” Even if that could appear complicated, it’s crucial to comprehend.

A book, map, chart, print, theatrical work, sculpture, film, sound recording, or computer program are examples of set forms in which the work must be established.


Copyright normally covers the performance, display, and web transmission of the in question work for the life of the author or creator of the content, plus seventy years.

Trademark protections explained

The legal safeguards for trademarks were established by Congress in 1946, making them far more recent than copyrights. Although trademarks are frequently thought of as protecting businesses and their financial interests, at the time they were first legislated, consumers were also considered to be protected by trademarks.

Trademark law forbids third parties from using a well-known mark or brand in order to safeguard the interests of the customer. A court considers whether or not a customer is likely to be confused by the use of the brand or symbol in order to determine the limits of trademark protection.

Trademark application and review

The procedure for registering a trademark is extensive. Attorneys at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are renowned for carefully reviewing applications.

An examining attorney checks if the proposed mark clashes with already registered trademarks in addition to making sure that an application has all required supplementary information.

The application is either rejected if it is too similar to other marks or it is sent back to the applicant with adjustments and revisions needed.

Consequently, a trademark search is a smart investment for many people who are thinking about filing for a trademark.

When compared to their federally recognized trademarks, searches make sure a proposed trademark is suitably distinctive. In reality, a thorough search can include not only the federal trademark database but also the DBA files and databases for all 50 states, Canada, and Europe.

When correctly handled and understood, copyright and trademarks may be used to successfully protect both goods and creative works. Making the most of your work and avoiding expensive and unpleasant legal disputes depends on your understanding of your rights and how intellectual property laws operate.