Trademarking and copyrighting

Let’s clear this up first. A copyright is an implied right to one’s creative work no matter was field it’s in (music, literary, art, etc.). A trademark is an implied and/or expressed right to one’s mark of trade (business name, logo, domain name, etc.)

How are they different?

A copyright is immediately “issued” once a work has been completed. There’s nothing special you need to do to get a copyright. It’s already done. In fact, this page and for that matter, this whole site is copyrighted to me, since I wrote every single word in it. You could go a step further and registered copyrighted work(s) with your local government, but this usually costs money and is nothing more than just a hard copy publication of your creation.

In today’s world, even posting online can warrant you a copyright and as long as you can prove you’re the originator, you’ll be fine. Now if you’re writing songs, I’d go get it published. You wouldn’t want your music to be copied by someone else after posting it on the Internet.

Trademarks are implied when they are first used and there’s no law stating that you have to register it with the federal government, but it does have more value if you do. Take for example my name and logo. Right now you only see a TM icon. This is my implication to the world that the name “ledfrog” and the logo I created are the marks of this website and represent my online venture. In time, I will have this registered and the TM will change to a ® symbol.

What this will do for me is prove that I have taken the necessary steps to ensure my name and logo belong to me and cannot be used by anyone else without my permission.

How are they relavent to my website/blog?

This all depends on how you look at it. First of all, as mentioned above, anything you write on your blog is already your copyrighted property (including images that you created). You don’t have to travel down the trademark road unless you want to further secure your case against any would be thieves.

If you’re building an online image or brand, I strongly advise you to explore your options about getting your brand trademarked if you’re serious about it. I’ve compiled a list of how this will help you below.

How do I get trademarked?

The first thing you want to do is declare your trademark by marking your logo, images and name(s) with TM symbols and/or copyright notices. And remember the date you start this because this will be your “First date of use” for your application.

The next step is to decide what product class(es) your trademark will cover and take note that each class you choose costs $275 to register. For example, when Coca-Cola registered their name for their soft drinks and the glass bottles they put them in, that was two registrations (mainly because their bottles were specially shaped).

At this point, you should head on over to the United States Patent and Trademark Office website and review as much information as you can about the process before submitting the lengthly application. I am no lawyer and if you’re concerned about any of the information I’ve given you and/or the application process, I advise you to seek one out.

There are many places online that will walk you through the setup and they are much more qualified than I am.

Pros and Cons

I have created a basic list of pros and cons for you to peruse, but by no means is this list exhaustive.

Pros Cons
  • Greater legal protection in court against trademark infringment
  • National recognition and usually international recognition
  • More professional image
  • Ability to license your brand’s usage to others
  • Protection of your company’s assets
  • Not cheap–costs $275 per class of goods
  • Process can take about 6 months and there are no guarantees of successful registration
  • No refunds if the registration does not go through
  • No automatic renewals or reminders–you must monitor your trademark manually

As you can see, there are more positive reasons to trademark your company’s assets. Above and beyond all, you’ll own a valuable stake in your own company and/or image. By the way, you can own a trademark personally or as a company.

Now you just need to figure out if you’re going to register a corporation or not!

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