The Difference Between Copyright and Trademark
Understanding the nuanced distinctions between copyright and trademark is crucial when it comes to safeguarding your intellectual property rights as a business owner.
In the world of creative business, these legal concepts play pivotal roles, yet they both serve distinct purposes.
The two of these can actually be incredibly confusing, especially since so many people use them interchangeably.
And while both are protective mechanisms for intellectual assets, they actually guard against different facets of creations and brand identities, which is why understanding the differences is so important.
Both, copyright and trademark, are things that I help so many business owners understand and implement in their business and in this blog post you’ll learn the main differences and purposes of each, so you know the exact roles that both play in your business specifically.
What Is Copyright?
If you ever find yourself confused between copyright and trademark, I have a little trick to help you remember.
➡️ You trademark names and you copyright content. ⬅️
With that in mind, let’s dig into what a copyright is first!
Put simply, a copyright notice is a statement placed on a piece of work to inform the public that the work is protected by copyright.
It typically includes the copyright symbol (©), the year you first published the piece of work and the year it was last updated, followed by the name of the copyright owner, brand or business.
For example, the copyright on my website reads: “© 2020-2023 The Boutique Lawyer.”
The main purpose of a copyright notice is to provide notice to others that the work is protected by copyright and to assert the rights of you, the copyright owner.
When most people think about copyright, they automatically think about their website, and while it’s true that you DO need to include a copyright notice in your website footer, you also need to include a notice on ANY digital asset.
This includes things like digital products, freebies, e-books, PDF’s, guides, etc.
Essentially any digital creation that someone can pay for or download for free, you need to include a copyright notice to avoid any copyright infringement!
And it really is as simple as using the formula below to start protecting your business or brand as soon as TODAY ⬇️
COPYRIGHT NOTICE FORMULA: © [INSERT FIRST YEAR OF PUBLICATION] – [INSERT YEAR IT WAS LAST UPDATED] [INSERT LEGAL BUSINESS NAME].
SAMPLE COPYRIGHT NOTICE STATEMENT: This resource is protected by copyright laws and international treaties. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this resource, or any portion thereof, may result in severe civil and criminal penalties, and will be prosecuted to the maximum extent possible under the law.
So, now that you know what copyright is, let’s get into the ins and outs of trademarking.
What Is a Trademark?
Copyright is essentially all about the content you create, while trademarks are all about protecting your brand identifiers.
Think things like your business name, logos, slogans, processes, etc.
Anything that makes up your brand or business are things that you would typically consider trademarking.
In the most simple terms, a trademark ensures that your brand is uniquely yours and it prevents others from using similar signs, logos, or names that could confuse your audience.
In the crowded world of online business, a trademark helps your brand stand out and keeps potential copycats at bay.
WITHOUT a trademark, you truly don’t have any legal rights to your business name, meaning any competitor can pop up, start using your name or logo, and if they beat you to filing a trademark for those assets, you will lose the right to your name and be forced to rebrand.
Sounds like a real nightmare, huh?
Well trust me when I say – I’ve seen it happen, so it’s not impossible!
Why Your Business Typically Needs Both
Even though copyright and trademark are clearly different, they actually go hand-in-hand and work together perfectly.
It’s like the business version of a PB & J if you will. 🍞🥜🍇
Implementing a copyright notice on your website and other digital assets, does the up front work of telling the world that you own the rights to the creative they are consuming, buying, or downloading.
Even with this notice, there are unfortunately still copycats out there that could potentially try to use your work as their own.
When this happens, that’s when you would want to file for a copyright registration, which is the legal process where you as the business owner submit an application and accompanying materials to the copyright office to obtain a formal registration of that copyright.
THIS is the piece that provides the real protection that you would need in the instance that someone does steal your stuff.
And that’s also where your trademark comes in…
Without a trademark, it is nearly impossible for you to get copycat accounts on social media and other platforms taken down.
For the government to truly be on your side in the instance of a copycat situation, your trademark backs you up even further and serves as proof that you are the rightful owner.
Overall, copyrights and trademarks complement each other by protecting different facets of your business's intellectual property, ensuring that BOTH – your creative works and your brand elements – are secured and effectively maintained!
Your One Stop Shop For All Legal Needs
When you started your business, I know you didn’t also sign up to become an expert in law, but that doesn’t mean you can simply ignore the legal needs of your business or brand.
This is why I decided to combine my love for small business owners AND my love for law to create a one stop shop for all of your legal needs.
Whether you need help with implementing correct contracts in your business, are looking for ongoing legal support, are ready to trademark your brand, or simply have a quick Q, The Boutique Lawyer is here to help!
⭐️ Browse all contracts here and grab what you need
⭐️ Schedule a trademark consultation to find the best option for you
⭐️ Join the Biz2Brand Membership for ongoing support
⭐️ Grab a free resource that I can’t live without
⭐️ Or simply connect with me in the DM’s – it’s my favorite place to hang out