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Trademark vs Copyright

Abhinav Girdhar
By Abhinav Girdhar | Last Updated on March 24th, 2022 11:14 am | 3-min read
Trademark vs Copyright

You have created a great brand and you want to protect it. But you’re not even sure whether to copyright it or trademark it.

Businesses are often ambiguous about differences between a copyright and a trademark and which of these apply to their intellectual property. And the marks are also confusing – which mark to use when? Let’s see what is the difference between copyright and trademark.

Copyright is for protecting literary and artistic works, such as books and videos. However, a trademark protects items that help define a company brand, such as a logo. While both Copyright and Trademark offer intellectual property protection, they protect different types of assets.

A whole lot of confusion arises, when it comes to logos as many of them qualify for both copyright and trademark registration. If your logo qualifies for copyright as original artwork and is not used to identify your company, your logo can be copyright protected so that you can prevent unauthorized copying.

Additionally, if you want to prevent others from using your logo design and ensure that your company’s mark is distinguishable from your competitors, you should trademark your logo. A trademark can only prevent confusion your customers may experience if there’s a similar connection to your competitors, while copyright protects against unwanted copying. In this blog, we will get into details and discuss the difference between copyright and trademark.

Trademark vs Copyright

What’s Copyright?

A copyright is a collection of rights vested to you once you have created an original work. We need to understand how these rights can be used or licensed. These rights include the right to reproduce the work, to distribute copies, and to display the work publicly.

What’s Trademark?

A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design that identifies the source of goods of one party from those of others. A service mark identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods. The best examples include brand names, logos, and slogans. The term trademark can be used to refer to both trademarks as well as service marks.

Trademark vs Copyright

Copyright and trademark are actually different types of intellectual property. Copyrights and trademarks protect distinct creations. Copyrights protect creative or intellectual works, and trademarks apply to commercial names and logos.

Both Copyright and Trademark have distinct and different uses. Copyright versus trademark is a major topic to be understood by small businesses. The validity and requirement of both for registration also vary. Copyright and trademark can be separated on the basis of the following points:

  1. Intellectual Property Type

    Copyright: Artistic, literary or dramatic expressions such as songs, music, motion pictures, poetry, fiction and non-fiction writings, etc.

    Trademark: A company or brand’s “mark” (e.g. its name, logo, motto, etc.) which distinguishes it as the source of any services or goods.

  2. Registration

    Copyright: To register a copyright, a person must submit an application to the U.S. Copyright Office. The application consists of an application form, a copy of your work (which is non-returnable), and also a non-refundable filing fee.

    Trademark: Trademarks can be registered through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. First, you search the online database to determine that your mark is not claimed. Once you have determined that your mark is unique, fill a trademark application. Businesses can also file an application online in just less than 90 minutes, without a lawyer’s help. The simplest way to register is on the US Patent and Trademark Office’s Web site,

  3. Protection Requirements

    Copyright: A materialized form of artistic expression which exists as a tangible entity. Ideas cannot be copyrighted.

    Trademark: A unique brand name, logo, symbol, design or motto which is distinctive to its representative source.

  4. Trademark vs Copyright

  5. Rights Provided to Owner

    Copyright: The right to reproduce or copy the works, distribute or broadcast works to the public, lend or rent the work.

    Trademark: The right to use and prevent use by other parties in a manner that is similar and creates confusion about the source.

  6. Fair Use

    Copyright: If the use of a third-party trademark is fair, there is the possibility that the same user might exceed the bounds of fairness from a copyright perspective. Depending on the complexity or creativity of a trademark logo, such a logo may be protected under copyright laws as well as trademark laws.

    Trademark: In the US, trademark law also includes a fair use defense, sometimes called trademark fair use to distinguish it from fair use doctrine in copyright. Fair use of trademarks is more limited than that which exists in the context of copyright.

  7. Validity

    Copyright: The rule is that copyright lasts for 60 years. In the case of an original literary, artistic, dramatic, and musical works 60-year period is counted from the year following the death of the author. However, in the case of photographs, cinematograph films, posthumous publications, pseudonymous publications, and sound recordings, works of government and works of international organizations, the 60-year period is counted from the date of publication.

    Trademark: The trademark registrations are valid for a period of 10 years from the date of application. This validity can be extended and renewed at the end of 10 years by filing a trademark renewal application.

Enforcing Your Trademark and Copyright Rights

Once your trademark and copyright are registered, you are responsible for enforcing your trademark and copyright rights. You need to make sure you protect your name or logo against unauthorized adoption or copying by anyone else.

The person who owns the trademark can pursue legal action against any person for using his trademark or copyright.

Although the United States Patent and Trademark Office will ensure no one registers the same or seemingly identical mark as yours, you are the one responsible for protecting the rights of your company’s intellectual property if anyone tries to use it. You have two legal options when taking action to protect your trademark against infringement. You can either send a cease letter or opt for a trademark infringement lawsuit.

You can also hire an attorney to watch for a trademark infringement so that you can be advised and counseled on how to proceed properly to obtain the protection you need.

Many people decide to hire an attorney to help them with the entire copyright and trademark process. However, it not required to have one as you can do absolutely everything on your own, also an attorney can be quite expensive.

One overlapping area of law between copyrights and trademarks comprises short words and phrases. These phrases are generally thought to be pertaining to trademarks, but they can be copyrightable also. When the United States patent and trademark office, is convinced that the items demonstrate sufficient creativity and originality, protection is granted.


Even though we are used to seeing copyright and trademark symbols everywhere, we have noticed that most people are unaware that they have different uses and applications. What’s more important, most people do not know what they are and don’t even know how to write them.

Copyright and trademark are both important protections and, when understood properly, can be used to effectively protect products and artistic creations. Knowing the scope of your rights and the ways intellectual property protections work can help you make the most of your work and can prevent costly and trying legal battles.

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Abhinav Girdhar

Founder and CEO of Appy Pie

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