Before we get into the meat of this discussion, let’s define what these two entities are: Copywrite and Trademark. Both are forms of intellectual property protection, but each protects different types of assets:
A Copywrite is used to protect the rights of an author or creator of one of the following: written stories, books, artwork, songs, films and radio or television programmes. The ownership of such items normally lies with the creator, unless a contract states otherwise and is valid for 50 years from the end of the year in which the item was created.
A Trademark is a legally registered ownership over a picture, signature, colour, numeral, shape, configuration, pattern, container or any combination of these. Normally a trademark will be used to protect a brand, product or related slogan and logo. A Trademark is valid for blocks of 10 years at a time.
A Copywrite protection can be issued by the creator or owner at any time simply by stating this on the works or by association to that creator or owner.
A Trademark needs to be registered with the Trade Marks Office and should or must be registered using a legal company to ensure that you file the correct forms and against the correct class of product group related to your item. There are 45 different classes under which you need to select from – see them here
The process will first require a detailed search of what currently exists, as any similar or conflicting applications will not be registered. You can do a preliminary search here: first before you incur any legal fees and potentially waste your money on lawyers doing what you can do yourself.
Once the application is registered it can take up to a year for final registration. This is mainly due to the backlog and slow process of the registration offices. Once registered you have the right to use and prevent others from using your slogan or brand etc.
Is it a good idea to register a trademark?
Yes: if you have something that will be used to make money or that can be sold as an asset later. A Trademark ads value to the item and will be valuable in sale negotiations. But if you are just creating smaller items, products or brands, do not waste time or effort going through the process. It is best to chat with someone and get advice on your circumstances. Just remember that if you ask a Trademark Lawyer if you should register a Trademark, guess what they will say….
Please remember as, in all legal issues, there are exceptions to what I have stated above, so do not use this as a legal binding guide on IP.
Next week we chat about Patents and Designs.