I want to know can a company copyright or trademark lines on t-shirts? Like i see kids t-shirts with lines: Mommy loves me... Does these words have copyrights on them? Or can anyone use them? If this can be doen can anyone give me cost of doing this?
The general rule is that single words or short phrases are not copyrightable subject matter. That said, if a particular t-shirt has some kind of graphic that incorporates the words, then the overal graphic may be something protectable. The government filing fee for a copyright application is $35. Different attorneys charge different rates, depending on a number of factors, but preparing and filing the application can generally be done in less than one hour of billable time.
In most cases, trademark protection would not be available for designs on the front of a t-shirt, which would be considered "mere decorative ornamentation." If, however, the design is used as a mark (i.e., it functions to identify the source of the t-shirt), it can be registrable as a mark. The filing fee for a federal trademark applications starts at $275 for a single class of goods or services. Again, different attorneys will charge different rates for a trademark application, but beware of cut rate services -- you may end up paying another attorney more to fix the application, or your mark may not be worth very much when it issues if done by an inexperienced attorney.
The first answer seems fairly accurate, but needs just one correction. The fees for filing a trademark application in the U.S. for each class of goods are currently $375 for paper filing and $325 for electronic filing.
In order for something to be deemed copyrightable, it must be "original" and fixed in a tangible medium. A "line" like a short phrase is unlikely to be deemed copyrightable (at least not the example you gave).
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