Friday, June 09, 2006

Copyrights and Patents: Is your Copyright really a Trademark?

Intellectual property (i.e. copyrights, trademarks and patents) can be a confusing idea to wrap your mind around. Do you need a copyright? Or is it a trademark? Let's take each one, point by point, and by the end of this post, you will have a good idea about where you should go next.

Copyrights:

Copyrights can be obtained for things of an artistic nature. This includes, of course, poetry, films, sculptures, music, fiction, etc. But can also include things that may not necessarily seem "artistic" in the general sense of the word. Copyrights can also be obtained for advertising copy, games, software programs and blueprints, to name just a few.

To file a copyright, head over to the US Copyright Office. Applications are $30 each, though that's likely to rise to $45 come July 1st.

Trademarks:

Trademarks can be names of products or services, logos, slogans, packaging and even sounds and smells. In essence, a trademark can be almost anything that is used to identify a particular product or service. Registering a trademark grants the owner exclusive rights to the mark within the specified industry. Of course, it's necessary to research the mark comprehensively prior to filing to ensure that there is no possibility of infringing upon another party.

I listed some links where you can do some preliminary name checking. However, please be aware that this is merely scratching the surface of what's out there. Only comprehensive research will tell you if the name is truly available. But, these links are free & a great place to start, so I'd try them out first.

To register a trademark, contact either your Secretary of State for a State trademark or the US Patent & Trademark Office for a Federal trademark.

If you are only conducting business in one state, then a State trademark is most appropriate. If you conduct business in at least 2 states OR between the US & any other country, you can file for a Federal trademark.

So…is your copyright really a trademark? Is your trademark really a copyright? Hope this post helped you out with those questions.

Get Your Free Links Here:
http://www.uspto.gov/ -- US Patent & Trademark Office; go to the TRADEMARKS section
http://biztaxlaw.about.com/od/research/a/Sec_of_state.htm --Go to your state's Secretary of State page to see if they have a searchable database of business names
http://www.nameboy.com/ – Searchable Domain Name Database
http://www.smartpages.com/ – National Yellow Pages
http://www.hoovers.com/free/ – Research Company Information
http://www.thomasnet.com/ – Must register (free) to search their database

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