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Trademark & Copyright FAQ

Posted by attorney Richard Symmes


What works may be Copyrighted?

Literary works, musical works, dramatic works, pantomime, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, motion pictures, sound recordings, architectural works.

Why Register a Copyright?

As soon as a work has been completed it has obtained a copyright. However in order to enforce your copyright in court you must have registered your work with the United States Copyright Office. By registering your work you are putting it on record that you are the first and only creator of a certain work. Having your copyright registered is always a good idea to ensure that your business has the ultimate protection from anybody who may want to infringe upon your work without compensating you.

What are the Rights of a Copyright Holder?

  1. To reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords.
  2. To prepare derivative works based on the copyrighted work.
  3. To distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending.
  4. To perform the copyrighted work publicly; and
  5. To display the copyrighted work publicly.
  6. To perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

How long do Copyrights last?For works created on or after Jan 1, 1978

  1. General- life of author + 70 years.
  2. Joint Works – last surviving author +70 years.
  3. Works for Hire – 95 years from first publication; or 120 years from its creation; whichever comes first.


What is a Trademark?

Section 45 of the Lanham Act defines the term "trademark" to include any word, name symbol, or device, or any combination thereof used (or with intent to use) by a person in commerce to identify and distinguish goods from those sold by others while indicating the source of the goods.

Why Register a Trademark?

Although it is true that a person or company may obtain rights to a trademark from use, registering a trademark with the United States Patent Trademark Office (USPTO) allows for a trademark to gain rights nationally rather than only locally in the jurisdiction where the trademark is being used. This allows for your company to be protected against anybody else who may want to use your companies name, image or likeness for profit, not matter their location.

What types of Trademarks are Available?

There are several types of trademarks that one may register such as:

  1. Arbitrary Trademarks When the trademark has no relation to the use for the trademark. Examples: Apple, arbitrary as applied to a computer. Geographical trademark if consumers don’t associate product with geography.
  2. Fanciful Trademarks Made up trademarks that don’t mean anything by themselves. Examples: Kodak, Exxon, Xerox
  3. Suggestive Trademark Words that suggest what the products are. Examples: Krispy Kreme, Coppertone, Tide
  4. Product Packaging and Trade Dress

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Filed under: Intellectual property