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3. How is a trademark different from a copyright?

A trademark indicates the source of goods or services. A copyright protects the expression of an idea in a tangible form.

4. Can something be protected by both trademark and copyright?

Sometimes. A logo, for example, is an image which can be protected by copyright. When the logo is used to indicate the source of goods or services—that is, to represent or indicate the company which provides those goods or services—it may be trademarked in addition to being copyrighted. The holder of the copyright to the image and the owner of the trademark may or may not be the same.

5. How do I get a trademark?

A trademark can be obtained simply by using the mark in commerce, but while use may create a claim to a mark, the mark is not well protected by use alone.

6. How can I protect my trademark?

You can protect your trademark by registering it with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This is best done in consultation with an attorney.

7. Do I have to register my trademark?

No, but registration has many advantages. It establishes your ownership of the mark, provides a basis on which to contest infringement of the mark, and increases the damages which you may obtain if someone uses the mark without permission.

1. Protecting artwork

a. Do I need to be concerned with copyright if I show my work in galleries?

Yes. Copyright governs the display of your works. Even though you legally retain your copyright after you sell your tangible work when you transfer it to a buyer, it is wise to ensure that the purchaser understands this, and that your copyright is protected before the work leaves your possession.

b. Do I need to be concerned with copyright if my work is produced for publication?

Yes—even more than someone whose work is primarily shown in galleries. Copyright governs the reproduction of your work, which means that you have to be aware of—and protect—your copyrights when your work is reproduced in any way, whether in gallery catalogs, in any form of printed matter, on websites, or on merchandise.

c. Can I copyright or trademark my artistic style?

No. “Style” is not copyrightable, but copyright may cover elements of an image which you have created if someone else copies it.

2. Do I need to protect my writing with copyright registration?

Yes.  If your unpublished manuscript is used without your permission and the work has not been registered, your remedies are severely restricted if you have not registered the work with the U.S. Copyright Office.

3. How do I protect my music?

As with drawn or written work, the best protection for music is early copyright registration. There are two forms of registration which may apply to music: registration of the written music, and registration of the sound recording. A songwriter who performs his or her own works should secure both forms of protection.

4. How is “entertainment law” different from copyright law?

“Entertainment law” is grounded in the copyright licensing of works used in the entertainment field, such as musical or dramatic works used in television or film, but entertainment agreements may also encompass matters which go beyond acquisition of rights, distribution of the work and division of proceeds, such as options, production financing, personal services, name credits, and trademarks. 

5. Is graphic design protected by copyright?

Graphic design covers many different forms of graphic art. Some graphic design is copyrightable, some is not–typefaces, for example, are not protected by copyright. Graphics, the written material which accompanies the graphics, and sometimes the layout of the graphics can be protected by copyright. Many graphic designers mistakenly do not seek copyright protection for any of their work, and in consequence suffer if their designs are re-purposed by clients without express permission.