Including Trademarks & Copyrights in Your Intellectual Property Strategy

World IP Day 2021 talking intellectual property strategy.With World IP Day coming up on April 26th, and the theme being “Taking your Ideas to Market”, we thought that we would dive into the world of intellectual property strategy by talking about two commonly overlooked areas by entrepreneurs and startups.

When intellectual property strategy is discussed by entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses it is usually in relation to utility and design patents. However, two important and overlooked areas of intellectual property include trademarks and copyrights. Both are critical to having a solid intellectual property strategy for your business.

Simply put, a trademark represents your unique brand or product in the form of name, logo and slogans, while a copyright protects works of authorship and even extends to computer code.

What is a Trademark?

A trademark is anything that represents your specific brand in the marketplace. The most common trademarks are business and product names, logos, and slogans, but it’s possible to register non-traditional trademarks, as well.  Unique color schemes, sounds, and even smells may have the potential to become a registered trademark. (Gerben Law)

A trademark is a way to protect the items of your business that make it uniquely yours along with what makes your product or service standout in the marketplace. A federally registered trademark will protect you from others that are interested in profiting from your brand or reputation. For nationwide trademark protection you will need to register it with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

What is a Copyright?

From the U.S. Copyright Office: Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed.

Unlike a trademark, which protects owners against others using any mark deemed confusingly similar, copyright protections are limited to the exact piece of work or extremely close replicas.  A copyright will not protect concepts or ideas, but rather how those concepts or ideas are expressed. (Gerben Law) For copyright protection, you must file an application with the U.S. Copyright Office.

The U.S. Copyright Office is hosting a webinar on April 26th for World IP Day. This year the World Intellectual Property Organization has selected the theme IP & SMEs: Taking your ideas to market. The Copyright Office’s event will be titled The Creative Business: The Copyright Office Celebrates World IP Day and will feature tips from several small business owners in creative fields, aspects of copyright protections, and an overview of the impact small, creative businesses have on our economy as well as the economic impact of the arts.

Common Mistakes When Identifying Intellectual Property

There are a couple of common mistakes we have seen when it comes to identifying what areas of your business or aspects of your product can be protected. Often people have a preconceived notion that an idea alone can be patented, it cannot. “There is no effective way to protect an idea with any form of intellectual property protection. Copyrights protect expression and creativity, not innovation. Patents protect inventions.” (IP Watchdog)

Also, when it comes to intellectual property protection for your product, the actual piece of IP that can be protected might not be obvious. From 3D Innovations President, Collin Kobayashi: “The idea for a product may not necessarily be the actual intellectual property, but the design, software code, know-how or other information related to the development of the product is more likely to be considered intellectual property.”

We highly recommend working with an experienced Intellectual Property Attorney to find the best intellectual property strategy for your business today and as it grows.

Additional Information Related to Intellectual Property Protection:


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May 2024

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