Copyright vs Trademark: What is the difference between them?

Last modified: November 30, 2020
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Although a trademark and a copyright are both used to protect intellectual property, there are a number of differences between them.

  • Types of assets protected 

The most important difference between a copyright and a trademark is the type of work each one protects. 

A copyright primarily protects original creations of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture.

A trademark, on the other hand, protects creations that identify a business value in the market, such as phrases, slogans, brand names, business names. It can also protect unique colors, schemes, sounds or even smells. 

  • Ownership: Automatic vs Applied for

You are awarded a copyright automatically, the moment you produce a work in a tangible form. A trademark though, is established through the common use of a mark in the course of business. You must file a trademark application using the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS)

  • Use: Non exclusive use vs Exclusive use

A copyright gives you the right to control the use, reproduction and distribution of your work. With a trademark you prevent others from using marks similar to yours for their works. 

  • Duration: Limited vs Unlimited 

A trademark does not expire after some years, it can last forever. Copyright protection lasts for a specific period of time depending on several factors. Works created by an individual are protected for the lifetime of the creator, plus 70 years. Works created anonymously, pseudonymously, and for hire, are protected for 95 years from the date of publication – or 120 years from the date of creation – whichever is shorter. Once a copyright expires it can’t be renewed

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