How do copyrights and trademarks differ?

On Behalf of | Mar 25, 2023 | Trademark Law

When you create intellectual property (IP), you want to do everything you can to protect it from getting stolen.

To that end, there are numerous vehicles of protection available. Copyrights and trademarks are among the most well-known. But what purposes do each serve, and how do they differ?

What they protect

The United States Patent and Trademark Office discusses copyrights versus trademarks. First: what does each one protect?

A copyright protects created words of literary, artistic or intellectual means. This includes things like movies, music, novels, photographs, paintings and software code. An example of copyrighted material includes the song lyrics from a popular band’s hit single.

A trademark protects a design, phrase or word, or a combination of such, which identifies your services or goods. This thing distinguishes you and your brand from others on the market. Coca-Cola as a brand name serves as an example of a trademark.

The unique benefits of protection

Each protection offers its own benefits, too. For copyrights, they protect a person’s exclusive rights to perform, distribute, reproduce or display the copyrighted work. It also keeps other people from copying the creation and using it to exploit the creator, or from using it at all without the creator’s permission, which is the primary and most well-known benefit.

Trademarks prevent other people from registering a similar brand identifier. It also prevents other people from using the trademark without permission, which protects brand identity and prevents brands from getting unfairly smeared by competitors.

Thus, each has its own use and its own benefits depending on what a person needs.