When running a business it’s very important to protect your brand and intellectual property. There are many ways of doing this however the two most common methods are of course Copyrighting © and Trademarking ™. However we’ve noticed many people are unsure as to what the difference is between a copyright and a trademark so we thought we’d write a quick article just outlining the difference and how each one would benefit your business.
Before we explain what each one is, let’s quickly answer the question at hand “what is the difference between a copyrigt and a trademark?”. In their purest form the difference between a copyright and a trademark is this:
- Copyright protects original works such as books, audio or videos
- Trademark protects items to help define a brand such as names, logos and fonts
So they’re the key differences – a copyright protects original works and a trademark helps protect items which define a brand. Now you know the difference let’s take a close look into each aspect and see how they could help to protect your business.
What is a Copyright?
Copyrights simply protect original artistic and literary works, protecting assets such as music, videos or written works (books, journals etc).
Although this sounds simple it’s a very deep web of legal logistics because you are (in essence) protecting an ‘idea’. The best way to explain this is to elaborate on a very famous legal copyright case that occurred in 1977:
The movie ‘Star Wars’ filed a copyright infringement case against the TV show ‘Battlestar Galactica’ because “it had stolen 34 distinct ideas from Star Wars.” This is how serious copyrighting can become, 34 IDEAS! They’re not even tangible assets, these are two giants (20th Century Fox and Universal Studios) going to court over 34 figurative concepts which they felt were too alike concepts that were in the film Star Wars, one of which was that Battlestar Galactica included a character named ‘Skyler’ which Star Wars deemed too similar to ‘Skywalker’.
So properly copyrighting is imperative if you want to license something such as a book you have written, a video series you have created or a piece of music you’ve made – otherwise your licensee could just start selling or using your work without any legal worry!
How to Copyright
In order to gain a standard copyright then you needn’t worry – copyright is an automatic right in the UK. So firstly you need to use the © icon next to designs or names of works you want to copyright. Secondly you just need to ensure that should a case ever arise that you have the ability to prove you were the original creator of that work – so clever tactics such as posting yourself a copy of your book in a sealed and dated envelope that you never open would suffice (for example).
However if you would like more ‘official’ method of copyrighting your work then there are plenty of companies who can help online. We’ve personally never used any so are not going to offer any suggestions without trying them ourselves, but a quick search on Google will show you plenty to choose from!
By definition, a trademark is word, phrase, slogan, symbol or design that identifies the source of products and services of one owner, helping audiences to distinguish them from the products and services of another owner. In simple it enables customers to identify who is supplying a product or service, so it protects a ‘brand’.
For example the computer company ‘Apple’ have trademarked their name and their logo, preventing anyone else from using their name or logo without their permission.
So if you are looking to license a brand then you will need to ensure you (at least!) trademark the logo and name in order to be able to start licensing it. If you don’t trademark the brand then why would anyone pay to license it when they could legally use it for free? That is the power of trademarking and is something you’ll need in place before looking to license a brand.
In order to get a trademark you must firstly ensure you have a copy of the design or know the word/slogan etc you want to trademark. Then you need to check here – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-classify-trade-marks – in order to choose your trademark classes. These are the areas in which your trademark will apply, for example Apple’s logo is trademarked under the classes of “computers, computer software, computer peripherals” etc.
Once you have that all in place then you simply register online here – https://www.gov.uk/how-to-register-a-trade-mark/apply – and you can apply for your trademark.
And that’s everything you need to know about Copyrighting and Trademarking in a nutshell!