What Is The Difference Between Copyright And Trademark?

What Is The Difference Between Copyright And Trademark

Are you a creative or business owner who produces original work? Then, understanding the distinctions between copyrights and trademarks is ABSOLUTELY crucial to properly safeguarding your assets and brand identity. Read on to learn more!

Intellectual property (IP) rights can, admittedly, be a confusing maze to navigate at first. But grasping the nuances, especially common laws regarding copyrights versus trademarks, is non-negotiable. It could be the difference between waging an expensive legal battle to protect your rightful interests or peacefully enjoying the well-deserved fruits of your creative labors without interference.

Two of the most frequently confused and conflated forms of IP protection are copyrights and trademarks. If you’re in the business of creating unique goods, services, creative works, or brands destined for commercial marketplaces, it’s absolutely vital that you understand the core distinctions between these two powerful tools!

At the end of the day, your intellectual property and solidified brand identity can potentially become just as valuable as revenue streams. With formal copyrights and trademarks duly secured, you wield serious legal powers to protect your business interests and fight back against any unauthorized use of your proprietary assets.

So today, I’m dedicating this post to talking about the differences between copyright and trademark. Let’s dig in! 

Copyright vs. Trademark

Although copyrights and trademarks are not the same, they are indispensable for safeguarding your creative works. By having this understanding, you will be able to determine the best course of action to take when someone decides to be unscrupulous and encroach on your hard work.

Imagine this scenario: you’ve spent years working on the next great American novel, and just when you are about to put it out there, you discover that a stranger has been selling copyrighted works of your sweat. Knowing whether such a situation is an infringement on the copyright law or a trademark violation is the first step in protecting your hard work. 

This post will tell you everything you need to know about these delicate terms. Be sure to also check out how to use copyrighted materials without breaking the law for even more info!

What Is The Difference Between Copyright And Trademark?

Your ideas, be they in the form of art, literature, or a remarkable brand identity, are the blood of your business. That’s what differentiates you from everyone else and what makes your consumers loyal to your business. Hence, you should safeguard your valuable content or assets with the right legal tools. That, of course, is where copyrights and trademarks come in.

But here’s the kicker: using a protection that’s not suitable for a particular circumstance or creative work could leave it open to danger. At the same time, choosing the right type of business protection can open up new opportunities for your business.

A well-protected copyright can generate more sales. That’s because companies can license it for use in their derivative products or services. A well-established trademark also protects your brand and boosts consumer loyalty and trust. But, how exactly can you differentiate between the two?

What is a copyright?

What is Copyright? 

A copyright is a form of intellectual property protection that gives you, the creator, exclusive rights over your original work. Whether it’s a literary masterpiece, a jaw-dropping painting, a catchy tune, or even trendy software code, if it’s an original creation, you can slap a big, shiny copyright on it!

Now, here’s the cool part: once you’ve secured the copyright, you get to decide who gets to reproduce, distribute, display, or perform your work. Copyrights also give you the power to create derivative works based on your original creation. So, if you’ve written a bestselling novel, you could turn it into a blockbuster movie, a hit Broadway musical, or even a line of trendy t-shirts (because who doesn’t love merchandise?)

Now, you might be wondering, “How do I get my hands on one of these copyrights?” Well, my friends, the process is surprisingly simple. As soon as you create an original work and put it in a tangible form (like writing it down, painting it, or recording it), you automatically get copyright protection. Of course, if you want to take things a step further and make it more official, you can do that through copyright registration with any government’s copyright office!

What Is Protected by Copyright? 

Now, let’s take a look at the diverse array of works that can be safeguarded by copyright:

  • Architecture
  • Art
  • Computer software
  • Movies
  • Novels
  • Other forms of audio and video materials
  • Other forms of original writing
  • Poetry
  • Research
  • Songs

What Are the Elements of Copyright?

For a work to be accorded this type of intellectual proprietary protection, five essential factors need to be in place. Let’s break them down:


First of all, your creation should be unique; that is, you can’t take something from another person and pass it off as your own work. This doesn’t mean it needs to be an entirely new concept that no one has ever come up with before (although that would be a bonus). Nevertheless, it should mirror some elements of YOU! It has to be a project you did on your own without mimicking someone else’s work. In turn, the copyright policy protects original works of creatives for them. 


Creativity may be somewhat subjective. Nevertheless, it’s essential your creation has some degree of creativity to qualify for copyright protection. Note that your creativity doesn’t have to go through the floor. Not at all! As long as you have injected your personality into the work, in terms of ideas, opinions, or manner of creating the work, you should be fine.

Fixed in a Tangible Medium

This is simply another way of stating that your creative work must be written down or otherwise documented in some tangible way. It can’t be something you have in mind, or possibly in your heart, irrespective of how genius that idea may be. To protect your work with copyright, you must fix it in a tangible medium whether written, painted, recorded, or even engraved on stone.


Essentially, for a work to be copyrighted, there should be an author credited for creating it. Things can get a bit complicated though, especially in cases of collaborative work or work made for hire. Nevertheless, in most cases, the person (or people) directly involved in creating the work are regarded as the author for copyright purposes.


Copyright protection remains active throughout the lifetime of the author or creator, plus another 70 years. YES, you read that correctly! This applies to every format or genre of your original work, including performance, display, and web broadcasts of the work in contention.

What is a trademark?

What is a Trademark? 

A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or device you use to characterize your goods or services. It’s also a personalized service mark with which you can distinguish yourself from your competitors. It’s like a tag that informs the public, “This is ours, and only ours!” A trademark also reminds your customers of the goodwill, product quality, brand identity and reputation you’ve built over time.

To achieve this form of protection for an idea, the interested party must follow a trademark registration process with the relevant office in the government. A central example is the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Once registered, the owner gets the legal right to use the trademark as a distinguishing sign for certain goods or services mentioned in the application. Also, the owner has the right to file a lawsuit against any violator of the brand’s trademark. These are just a few of the benefits of trademark registration you stand to enjoy!

What is protected by copyright and trademark

What Is Protected by a Trademark? 

Here are some of the most common items that can be trademarked:

  • Brand names and logos
  • Slogans and taglines
  • Product names and designs
  • Distinctive color schemes or patterns
  • Shapes and packaging designs
  • Sound recordings (like a jingle or distinctive audio cue)
  • Scents (yes, you read that right certain unique smells can be trademarked!)

What Are The Elements of A Trademark?

When it comes to securing the ultimate protection for your brand’s identity, these key elements must be present for a trademark to be considered valid and enforceable.


First and foremost, your trademark must be distinctive enough to set your brand apart from the competition. This means that it can’t be too generic, descriptive, or merely suggestive of the goods or services you offer.

Use in Commerce

To validate a trademark, you must actively use it in commerce through the sale or advertising of goods or services. Reserving a trademark isn’t enough; you need to prove it’s being used in the real world to identify your brand.

Geographic Limitations

While trademarks can be registered at the state, national, or international level, their geographic scope is limited based on where the goods or services are actually being offered. This means you can’t register trademarks and claim exclusive rights to them in areas you don’t actively conduct business or have a commercial presence.

Intent to Use

In some cases, you may be able to file for a trademark based on your intent to use it in the future, even if you haven’t started actively using it in commerce yet. However, you’ll need to demonstrate a genuine intent to use the trademark and eventually follow through with actual use within a specified timeframe. 

Take charge of your intellectual property and secure the future of your creative works!

As you may have noticed by now, there is more to the trademark and copyright symbols. As a creative or business owner, it’s important you understand the distinctions between both IP markers. This is not only valuable to prevent costly errors but also for the continual growth and prosperity of your business. That’s where the knowledge you’ve acquired from this post will be helpful to you!

But why stop there? The more you expand and develop your business empire online, you’ll need even more fortifications to protect yourself and everything you own. This is where my Ultimate Bundle® steps in, providing  plug-and-play legal templates for solid contracts, website policies, and proper insurance coverage everything in one place! Also, tune in to my blog and podcast, where you’ll be getting a continuous stream of valuable knowledge and tips on starting, building, and protecting your business. See you there!

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