Feature Friday – Five Facts on Copyright and Trademark Law

Today I decided to feature my two favorite areas of the law – copyright and trademark!  Our Feature Friday today is featuring Five Facts that you need to know about Trademark Law and Copyright Law in order to be successful in the entertainment industry.  A trademark and a copyright are not interchangeable words or concepts.  In fact, they are entirely different legal concepts. With these Five Facts, you can impress your friends that you know the difference between copyright law and trademark law.

Trademark Law

1.            A trademark can be a word, logo, package design used by a manufacturer or merchant to identify its goods or services and distinguish them from others

2.            Trademark law comes from Federal law located within the Lanham Act.  Some states have protections similar to federal trademark law, but it is not as strong as federal protection.

3.            There are three main purposes of trademark law.  (1) Ownership – Alerts the rest of the world as to ownership of a product.  (2) Consumer Protection – Allows consumers to select products based upon quality and reputation rather than mistake and deception.  (3) Branding and Building Brand Loyalty– Rather than companies having to laboriously detail specific qualities and attributes of a product, it serves as a shorthand to instantly tell a person of the quality.

4.            A strong trademark is formed by not  just the words used.  It helps to include a unique color as part of the identification of the mark, a unique font (for example, the Disney or Coca-Cola font), a design element attached to the mark or to make-up or invent a word.  The more of the above elements you can use, the stronger the trademark becomes.

5.            The most important thing to remember about a trademark is that is designates SOURCE. Think of famous brands like Disney, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, NFL or Facebook.

Star & Bucks in Bethlehem

Star & Bucks in Bethlehem, Israel. Photo taken by a friend.

Copyright Law

1.            Copyright law protects original works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible medium of expression.

2.            Ideas alone, without some form of creative expression, are never subject to copyright protection.

3.            Copyright’s biggest urban myth – If I mail a copy back to myself this is “as good as” getting federally registered copyright.  FALSE!  Mailing it back to yourself only serves to show a date that the work was created.  In order to reap the full benefits of copyright protection, such as the ability to file a lawsuit for infringement, registration is necessary.  The only way to have a federally registered copyright is to do so through the United States Copyright Office.

4.            You cannot copy or distribute a work (photo, song, writing, or film) just because it does NOT contain a copyright notice or the © Copyright notice is not required for copyright infringement.  You should not copy or distribute any fixed works of art (such as writings, photos or music) unless you are the author or you have permission from the author.

5.            The most important thing to remember about a copyright is that it serves to protect CREATIVE works.

© is the copyright symbol in a copyright notice

What are your questions about trademark law and copyright law? Take part in the comments below.  Is there a specific topic that you would like for me to tackle – then drop me a line under the Stay In Touch tab.  If you liked this post, please share it and click the FOLLOW button above to get more! Follow me on Twitter @RyanneDSaucier and Stay Tuned In!

One thought on “Feature Friday – Five Facts on Copyright and Trademark Law

  1. Pingback: And the Gold Statuette for Film Goes To … | Statute of RyAnne

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