Trademarks & Copyrights
Trademarks and copyrights are often discussed together, but they have important differences. At a high level, a trademark protects a ‘brand’ of an entity, while copyright protects specific works. The “MGM” lion and “APPLE” apple are trademarks that describe their respective brands, while copyright protects the movies MGM ‘owns’ and the iOS operating system software used on Apple’s phones and computers.
Our attorney at Karen B. Tripp can assist with either of these processes. While a trademark is technically created by use, if you fail to protect with federal registration, you could lose it to another business that did go through the process of federal trademark registration.
Copyright is created when the work is created and resides with the author and registration is not required, but should you suffer infringement, registration is helpful to protect your rights to the work.
Trademark or Service Mark?
A trademark identifies a product or good while a service mark identifies a service. The terms are sometimes simply referred to as a ‘mark’ and have the same legal meaning.
Choice Of Mark?
Marks may be descriptive or fanciful and arbitrary. While descriptive marks are easy to think of and may help customers know what the product is or the service provided, they often are weak and unenforceable. “Tom’s Diner” or “Susan’s Accounting” are descriptive. Marks like XEROX or APPLE are “Fanciful” or “Arbitrary,” and when carefully chosen, can be very powerful and strong due to their unique identity with their products or services.
Our attorney can help you with this process. You may think an attorney is too expensive for something as easy as choosing a name for your product or service, but that expense can quickly be dwarfed by the cost of legal difficulties caused by infringement issues or the loss of business and customers to a similarly named good or service.
Likelihood Of Confusion?
A key concern for any mark is the likelihood of confusion for the consumer with another mark. This is a complex question, involving the similarity of the marks and the relatedness of the goods or services. Similarity encompasses the “appearance, sound, connotation and commercial association of the marks” and relatedness involves how related the services or goods are to one another. Our attorney can help you with these questions to assist you in developing a viable mark.
Copyright is often associated with ‘artistic’ works, such as books, scripts, photographs, paintings, music and movies, it encompasses additional items like software. Our attorney can answer your questions concerning the necessity or advisability of registration, process of registration and any issues of enforcement of copyright.