The Difference Between Trademark and Copyright

When it comes to intellectual property, two concepts often get confused: trademark and copyright. For instance, if I have a YouTube channel called “Read ‘Em And Weep” where I upload videos reviewing books that I have read, do I have a trademark or a copyright? The answer is that I probably have both.

Copyrights and trademarks are both forms of intellectual property, but they serve different purposes and protect different kinds of assets.

Trademarks are words, phrases, symbols, or designs that identify the source of goods. For example:

  • When a customer eats a sandwich wrapped in paper that has “EAT FRESH” written on it, they know that the sandwich came from Subway.
  • When a customer buys shoes with a swoosh logo on them, they know the shoes come from Nike.
  • When a customer gets a cup of coffee and the cup has a green circular design featuring a siren on it, they know the coffee came from Starbucks.

Therefore, “Eat Fresh,” the Nike swoosh, and the Starbucks logo are all trademarks. Trademarks exist regardless of whether they are registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, but having a registered trademark gives the trademark’s owner certain benefits, including the right to use the ® symbol. You can read more about the benefits of registering a trademark here.

Differently, copyright protects original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression, such as books, songs, paintings, or software code. Although “originality” is a requirement for a copyright, the creativity required to have a copyrightable work is relatively low. For example, a person who records a video of their cat making a funny face has a copyright in the video. Differently, Taylor Swift has a copyright in the lyrics and music she writes. Obviously, Taylor’s music requires a lot more creativity, but both works are entitled to some amount of copyright protection.

The owner of a copyright has the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, and create derivative works based upon their original work. Like trademark protection, copyright exists regardless of whether the work is registered, but registration provides legal advantages, such as the ability to recover certain kinds of damages in an infringement lawsuit.   

Back to my original example of my YouTube Channel, “Read ‘Em and Weep.”. Do I have a trademark or copyright? I have both. “Read ‘Em and Weep” is my trademark, and the videos I upload are my copyrighted works.

If you are curious about what you can do to protect your intellectual property, contact us today.

More From Our Blog

Department of Labor Increases Salary Thresholds for Overtime Exempt Employees

By: Noah P. Hill

Department of Labor’s Final Rule Increases Salary Thresholds for Employees Exempt from Overtime Pay The Department of Labor announced it would be making revisions to the overtimeRead More

The Difference Between a Power of Attorney and a Personal Representative

By: Amy M. Scott Smith

What is the Difference between acting as a Power of Attorney and acting as a Personal Representative in the Estate Planning Process When it comes to legal matters involving estateRead More

Understanding the Role of a Registered Agent in Montana

Author: Dawn Donham In the world of business and entity establishments, certain roles are pivotal, yet are often overlooked when ensuring that the business is in compliance with stateRead More

Contact Worden Thane P.C.

While this website provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a meeting with an attorney, please call or complete the intake form below.