When you're first starting out in a business, you're of course concerned about getting your name out there to spread the word and ensure success. Part of your brand includes any designs or logos that are related to your business' name. As a business owner, it's important to ensure that you take the necessary measures to properly protect your trademarks and copyrights when it comes to marketing and advertising a product or service.
What are trademarks?
Trademarks protect words, names, symbols, sounds, or colors that distinguish goods and services from those manufactured or sold by others and to indicate the source of the goods. You don’t necessarily have to register your trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), but there are various benefits included in registering it. U.S. trademarks can last forever, as long as the trademark is used in commerce and defended against infringement.
Trademarks are not necessary when operating in a small geographic location. However, if you are selling your product over the Internet to other states, regions, or countries, trademark protection and registration becomes a bit more important. Registering a trademark is fairly inexpensive and runs between $275 and $325, plus lawyer fees. It's important to keep in mind that trademark protection from the USPTO doesn't protect your trademark overseas. To protect your trademark overseas, you may register your trademark in the countries in which you want to do business in.
What is copyright?
Copyrights protect original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software and architecture. This can include things like HTML or other code that programs specific Web sites. However, copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed. For small business’ Web sites, copyright protects all original authorship on the Web site including writings, artwork, pictures, and other elements. Registering your copyright is not necessary but is recommended if your business is in a creative industry or field. In order to enforce your copyright by law, you need to register your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office. This can be done online and costs about $35.
A lawyer may be necessary in ensuring that your trademarks and copyrights are properly created and registered. A lawyer can also help you understand fair use as well as your rights when it comes to other aspects of intellectual property law. Contact our Santa Barbara law firm today to learn more.