Copyright and Trademarks Basics

Q: I have a new business logo idea? Should I protect it by registering a trademark, or copyright?
A:  It depends.

If you are just starting your business venture you have some options.  You can register a trademark NOW for future use.  Or you can avoid the costs and register it LATER, even after you have begun to use it for your business ventures.  Trademark is what you would need to protect a logo, or catch phrase that you use or plan to use in commerce.  i.e. the NIKE swoosh, or “Just do It”

FYI ” 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” (US Copyright Office)
Trademarks are expensive to register and do not have to be registered right away.  The process  varies and fees do as well, but can range from $125 up to $400.  If your aim is to be more economical, you may chose to defer a formal trademark registration until you are bringing in some profits or can afford the investment.  However, if  you notice that there is another trademark, logo or slogan out there similar to yours, then you may need to take action to protect your rights to use the mark.
Basic trademark Searches 
Q:  How do you know what’s out there? Is my trademark or catch phrase really unique? 
A:  You may check the USPTO database periodically by performing a search to see if other people are using it or have similar trademarks.  Be advised that once a mark is registered, you must maintain its protection by periodically filing paperwork and paying fees at designated time periods.  I have linked some helpful videos on the USPTO website https://www.uspto.gov/trademark  that you may find informative.
Establish an online presence.  If you haven’t already, stake your place on the internet.  Design or host a simple blog,  or website as a “place holder” for your business.   This can be your way of establishing the business as “coming soon,” and is saying to the world, “I’m here, with my business, you are on notice!”  Wix.com has free website design services, as well as WordPress.com, which I use for this site.   (No official endorsements here.)  Finally, consider joining your local chamber of commerce.  They may host events to welcome new businesses, and even may help to get your business or services featured or advertised in local media outlets.

Disclaimer: This blog is Commentary Only and nothing here is to be interpreted as legal advice, solicitation, or any claim that the quality of legal services offered by The Keli R. Edwards Law Office, LLC is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers. I welcome your feedback and comments!

Author: keliredwards

Graduate of Howard University School of Pharmacy, Washington, D.C., The Birmingham School of Law, Birmingham, AL, The University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. Native of Gadsden, Alabama. Musician. Life-long Student-

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