We protect Intellectual Property with Copyright, Trademarks, and Registered Trademarks. You may have seen certain protections as the symbols ©, ™, and ® following everything from logos to comic strips. What are they and what do they do?
Let’s start with copyright. You have a right to copy or reproduce any work you’ve personally created. The symbol shows the public that the work in question, whether writing, music, or computer software, is not available for free reproduction. There are three elements of copyright protection:
1. Fixation: Copyright only applies to creative works that exist in a permanent state, more or less. Music must have a notation on sheet music, for example. The performance of a song cannot be protected, but a recording of the performance can be.
2. Expression: Ideas can’t be copyrighted, but the expression of them can. You can’t copyright the idea for two-wheeled transport, but specific designs for bicycles and Segways can be.
3. Originality: The work needs to be yours, and reasonably distinct as a creation.
Copyright applies automatically to any work you create, even without the symbol on it. You can register the copyright, to record an official status that will hold up in the event of legal proceedings.
Trademarking is about identifying the source of a service or product. Coca-Cola’s logo, for example, is a trademark that expresses the brand of soft drink you are drinking as Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola is a registered trademark, which offers legal protection when competing producers attempt to use their brand. Words, logos, catchphrases, shapes, and colors associated with specific uses can be trademarked. Many marks can be trademarked if they achieve a reasonable amount of distinctiveness within their industry.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is responsible for registering trademarks. Registered trademarks are superior to unregistered trademarks in the court of law, and give great security for your intellectual property. The process of registering a trademark can take over a year, but businesses of the inland northwest can reach us at Post Falls Law to help you through the process.