WHAT IS COPYRIGHT LAW?
A: Copyright law is a subset of laws that govern ownership of created works of art. The work of art could be a writing, (a book, an article, a movie script), a drawing, a painting, software, and more. It is governed by the federal government, and codified in the Section 17 of the United States Constitution. The purpose of it is to promote the arts and the sciences.
WHAT IS A COPYRIGHT?
A: A copyright is ownership and protection for the particular work that you created.
HOW DO I GAIN PROTECTION IN MY WORK?
A: Copyright protection is automatically granted when the work is fixed in a tangible medium of expression.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS?
A: A copyright is automatically granted. In order to gain a copyright, the work of art needs a few things:
“Copyright protection subsists … in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device”
Did you make the work yourself? That is the only necessary requirement for originality. You did not copy or steal it from someone else.
- Fixation in a tangible medium of expression
Is the work able to be perceived in some permanent form in some way? It could be a writing, a picture, a movie, a video game, a drawing or painting. One way to wrap your mind around this requirement would be if you can use any of your 5 senses (see, hear, smell, taste, touch) to perceive the work.
WHY SHOULD I REGISTER MY COPYRIGHT?
A: Registering your copyright allows you to collect damages. You can not sue someone unless your copyright is registered before the lawsuit commences.
HOW DO I REGISTER MY COPYRIGHT?
A: You register your copyright with the Copyright Office! (https://www.copyright.gov/) There might be different requirements depending on what you want to register.
WHAT CAN/CAN NOT BE COPYRIGHTED?
A: You can own a copyright in almost anything that you create. This includes photos, books, movies, software, and more. The better question is what can not be copyrighted.
You can not own ideas, facts, laws of nature/physics (such as the law of relativity), and some processes. You can not own things that are functional, such as clothing or a box.
Ideas are not tangible, and tangibility is necessary in copyright law.
Have more questions? Contact Assaad Lyn
WHAT IS A TRADEMARK?
A: A trademark can be any combination of a word, phrase, or symbol (such as a picture or drawing, (like a logo) that connects a product or service with the maker of the product or service.
WHAT DOES A TRADEMARK PROTECT?
A: A trademark protects the word, phrase, or symbol that identifies a product or service with the maker of the product or service, within the class that your product or service is registered in.
For example, if you register your mark for t-shirts, your mark is protected for its use on t-shirts. Trademarks protect not only the word, phrase, or symbol that is registered, but one of the ultimate goals of trademark protection is to protect the public.
The phrase “likelihood of confusion” is used in trademark law to ask if a trademark is likely to cause confusion for the public. If your mark could be confused for someone else’s, then you may risk not being able to use your mark. An owner does not want counterfeit (and possibly inferior) product(s) associated with their (likely superior) product(s).
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR A TRADEMARK?
A: The biggest requirement for a trademark is use in commerce. That means that you must use the mark in the marketplace, and someone should be paying for your product or service. Using the mark in the marketplace stops trademark trolls from filing a mark solely to prevent others from using it.
You also can not use someone else’s mark, or you risk causing confusion in the marketplace. If you do not use your mark in the marketplace, then you risk losing it!
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO REGISTER A TRADEMARK?
A: It will take at a minimum, 6 months to register a trademark from the date of the application, provided that there are no issues.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE ™ AND ® SYMBOL?
A: The ™ symbol means the mark is being used in commerce, but it may not be registered. It could also mean that a mark is registered on the state level. It could also mean that a federal or state registration is pending.
The ® symbol means that a trademark has been filed and registered at the federal level.
WHY SHOULD I REGISTER MY MARK?
A: Registering your mark on the federal level places others on notice that your mark is being used for your product or service. This means that others can not use your mark. A successful registration will allow you brand yourself and expand your business.
HOW DO I REGISTER MY MARK?
A: You register a trademark by going through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) registration process. If you seek to sell your product nationally, expand your business, or start branding, registering a trademark may be the right move for you.
Consider hiring a trademark attorney as the USPTO suggests, to help you do the research, and find the appropriate classes for your products.
HOW MUCH DOES REGISTERING A TRADEMARK COST?
A: Registering a trademark can cost anywhere from $250 (was $225 per class) to $350 (was $275 per class) per class , meaning that if you register your mark for t-shirts (class 1) and for software (class 2), you will pay the application fee two times. The application fee is a separate fee from the attorney’s fee. The new trademark fees went into effect January 2, 2021.
This is just a small bit of how copyright law and trademark law works. I hope that this was helpful to you, and I wish you the best in your artistic endeavors. If you need any help, please feel free to reach out to me.