Originally posted 2012-10-31 11:23:34.
It is easy to confuse a trademark with a copyright because they are both in the intellectual property field of law. It is important for small business owners to know the difference between the two to protect their products and/or services.
A trademark can be a word, symbol, and/or design, and can also refer to service marks. Trademarks and service mark simply allow a customer know where the goods and/or service came from. Sometimes, a customer will want to continue buying from a certain brand because they know the company is of good quality. When that customer walks into a store, they know what designs, words, and symbols to look for so that they know they purchased that brand. Therefore, having a good trademark is very important when trying to build a business.
Protecting your trademark by registering it is critical. Registered trademarks give exclusive rights to the owner to use that mark. It also allows the public to know that a certain mark belongs to you since they can look marks up on the government website (www.uspto.gov). You do not want anyone else using your mark, because ideally, your customers identify a certain quality with your mark, and if someone else is using that mark, the customer may end up buying from your competition instead of you.
A copyright differs from a trademark because it protects works of authorship. A copyright gives you the right to control how your work is reproduced. There are many different types of works of authorship, including music, lyrics, books, etc. For intellectual property to be copyrighted, it must be tangibly expressed, because an idea or thought cannot be copyrighted. Also, unlike trademarks, a copyright will not tell a customer where a good or a service came from. If you are a business that deals with books, music, or any other creative work, it is important for you to make sure your work is registered using the correct copyright procedure. Further, if you post blogs or articles copyright protection is significant to your business.
The distinction between copyright and trademark is very important.