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  • Writer's pictureAleksejs Valle

Is Trademark the Same as Copyright?

Trademark and copyright are not the same. They are two distinct types of intellectual property serving different purposes.


What is a trademark?


A trademark is a sign used to distinguish the goods or services of a business from those of others. A trademark can take various forms, including words, logos, product shapes, sounds, colors, motions or any other signs capable of distinguishing the goods or services of different enterprises. Examples include the name “McDonald’s”, the Apple logo, Nike's “Just Do It” tagline, the distinctive Coca-Cola bottle shape, the iconic Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lion’s roar, the yellow color of the Post-It sticky notes, and the motion of the Dropbox blue icon.


What is copyright?


Copyright is the right of an author to control other’s use of their original work of literature, science, or art. Copyrightable works include books, lectures, software, scripts, songs, drawings, sculptures, photographs, architectural works and other works of authorship.

Trademarks

Copyright

Basic function

Distinguishes the goods or services of one company from those of others.

Promotes creation of new original works.

What it mainly protects

​Trademark owner’s right to prevent others from registering and using confusingly similar signs.

Copyright holder’s right to authorize or prohibit the use of the copyrighted work by others.

How the rights are acquired

Obtained through use or registration. Trademark registration offers greater legal protection.

Obtained automatically, upon creation of the original work, without the need to register formally.

Duration

Trademark registration is valid for 10 years and can be renewed in 10 year increments indefinitely.

Copyright lasts for the entire life of the author plus 70 years from the death of the author. Copyright cannot be renewed and once expired the work can be used without the right holder’s permission.

Legal symbols

The trademark owner can use “R” in a circle next to a valid registered trademark. If the trademark is not registered, the “TM” symbol can be used instead.

“C” in a circle may be used as a copyright notice.

Can a trademark infringe copyright?


In some cases, trademarks may incorporate copyrighted works. For instance, a product logo (trademark) might be based on a creative design or illustration. In such instances, it is crucial for the trademark owner to address copyright ownership. Failure to obtain a proper copyright transfer can result in copyright infringement.


Consequently, the copyright holder can challenge the trademark's validity and prohibit its use. Additionally, the copyright holder may seek compensation of material and moral damages from the trademark owner.


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