Copyright vs. Trademark
The difference between two very commonly mistaken means of protection, and what it means for your business.
When it comes to protecting your company's name and branding, it can be confusing to understand the difference between trademark and copyright, and which one is best for your business.
A trademark is a symbol, word, or phrase that is used to identify and distinguish a company's goods or services from those of other companies. Trademarks are registered with the government and can include things like logos, slogans, and company names. The main purpose of a trademark is to protect a company's brand and prevent others from using a similar name or logo which could cause confusion among consumers.
On the other hand, a copyright is a form of legal protection that applies to original works of authorship, such as literature, music, and art. Copyrights are also registered with the government and give the creators of these works exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, and display them.
When it comes to protecting a company name, a trademark is the best option. This is because a trademark is specifically designed to protect a company's brand and prevent confusion among consumers. A copyright, on the other hand, is not typically used to protect a company name, as it is not considered an original work of authorship.
To register a trademark, a company must submit an application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The application process typically includes a search of existing trademarks to ensure that the proposed name does not infringe on any existing trademarks. Once the application is approved, the trademark is added to the USPTO's database and the company can use the ® symbol to indicate that the trademark is registered.
When selecting the symbol, word or phrase that you’re looking to trademark, you’ll be asked to select a category for the ‘Goods and Services’ your business provides customers. Trademarks for symbols, words and phrases may be granted even if they’re duplicative as another business, as long as the Goods and Services you provide are different. As an example, for the trademark ‘RSRV’ there is a trademark on ‘RSRV’ for alcoholic beverages and a trademark for ‘RSRV’ for trying new products in a physical establishment. Both trademarks were granted because the ‘Goods and Services’ differ.
In summary, trademarks and copyrights serve different purposes: trademarks protect company's name, logos and branding elements, copyrights protect original works of authorship. If you want to protect your company's name and branding, a trademark is the best option. It's important to register your trademark as soon as possible to avoid any potential legal issues down the road.