IP is protected by law, for example, patents, copyright, and trademark, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create. By striking the right balance between the interest of innovators and wider public interest, the IP system aims to foster an environment in which creativity and innovation can flourish.

Copyright is a legal term used to describe the rights that creator have over their literary and artistic work. Work covered by copyright range from books, music, painting, sculpture, and films, to computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps and technical drawings. A trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods and services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. Trademark date back to ancient times when craftsmen used to put signatures or  “mark” on their products.

Copyright: An expression of idea

A copyright is obtained automatically by the author as soon as some creative form of expression is fixed in a tangible medium. However, there are some significant benefits of registering your work with the US Copyright office. These benefits include;

  1. Public notice of your ownership: your work will be published in Copyright Office Catalog and will be searchable to the public. Anybody thinking of using this work will be able to search this catalog and see that your work is protected. This gives constructive notice to the public that you own the work and help defeat claims “innocent infringement”.
  2. Legal evidence of ownership: If somebody takes your work, registration will avoid a costly dispute over the actual ownership. Your copyright registration will provide proof of ownership. Your copyright registration will provide proof of ownership and relieve you of this legal burden.
  3. Validity: Your registration will demonstrate the validity of your copyright if it is registered within five years of publication. This can prevent future challenges to your rights in the work.
  4. Maximisation of damages: Without timely registration, a copyright holder is limited to actual damages in case of infringement. These can be nominal and difficult to prove. With a registration, the copyright holder is entitled to statutory damages and attorney’s fee. Rather than having to prove actual damages, a copyright holder with a timely registration may be eligible for statutory damages to $150,000 per infringement plus attorney’s fee.
  5. Ability to bring an infringement suit: Perhaps the most benefit. Even though a copyright has a right in a work, those rights with limited exception cannot be enforced through the court unless the work is registered with U.S. Copyright Office. Without the registration, a copyright holder cannot bring a lawsuit for copyright infringement.

Trademark: an Investment in Goodwill

Companies do not pay money and subject themselves to the trademark application process for no reason. It all starts with the right of ownership.

  1. You legally own the mark: A Federal trademark registration provides the owner with the legal presumption of ownership. These inlcudes exclusive rights to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with goods or service listed in the registration.
  2. You can pursue legal action against infringers: If competing for business uses your tradename there’s not much you can do about it. A tradename grants you only the right to use the name in documents and business identification. Federal trademark holders can use infringer in federal courts. Fillings in federal courts typically mean more timely process than state courts, since a single judge oversee the entire case.
  3. Your trademark will appear in searches: Before a company can apply for a trademark, it must first conduct a trademark search using the United States Patent and Trademark Office database. Since the USPTO database is publicly accessible, companies cannot claim ignorance of your trademark ownership.
  4. Prevent against imported goods: A U.S. trademark by itself does not affect international companies, except in one important way. Many important companies export their goods to the US when you hold federal trademark rights, those foreign companies cannot use your trademark when selling their imported goods in the U.S.
  5. Easier Path to International Rights: A registered trademark also allows the trademark owner to obtain international registration in foreign countries. So if you want to expand your business beyond the US it would be much easier to obtain trademark protection in foreign countries if you already own the US trademark rights.

And What About Infringement?

Copyright Infringement is using someone else’s work without getting that person’s permission. The author of any original work, including books, essays, web pages, songs, videos etc automatically gets the copyright to that work, even if she does not label it with the copyright symbol and her name. Fair use exemption allows you to legally copy the small amount of someone else’s work. Just make sure to give the author credit so you won’t be guilty of plagiarism.

Trademark infringement is the authorized use of a trademark or service mark on competing goods and services. The success of the lawsuit to stop the infringement turns on whether the defendants’ use causes a likelihood of confusion in average consumer. The success of infringement normally turns on whether the defendant’s use causes a likelihood of confusion and so weaken the value of plaintiff’s mark. A mark need not be identical to one already in use to infringe upon owner’s right. If the proposed mark is similar enough to the earlier mark to risk confusing the average consumer, it may constitute infringement if the service or goods on which two marks are used are related to each other that is they share the same market.

Know the difference

The Difference Between Copyright and Trademark. While both offer intellectual property protection, they protect different types of assets. Copyright is geared toward literary and artistic works, such as books and videos. A trademark protects items that help define a company brand, such as its logo. While both offer intellectual property protection, they protect different types of assets. Copyright is geared toward literary and artistic works, such as books and videos. A trademark protects items that help define a company brand, such as its logo. For example, Acme Publishing Company can trademark its name and logo but would copyright books and videos that it created.