Registering a Trademark or Copyright

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    How to Register a Trademark or Copyright 

    As a business owner, you understand the importance of your company’s intellectual property. It protects your unique thoughts and practices from others. Intellectual property (or IP) is an asset that can help distinguish your brand and products from competitors. While you can begin doing business without your IP established legally, you may want to research how you can protect your company from frauds and copycats. Some may want to open lookalike businesses or sell similar products. So, it’s important to know your rights surrounding the IP of your business. The most common forms of intellectual property are trademarks and copyrights. 

    What is a Trademark?  

    A trademark is a symbol, word, phrase, or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of goods or services. A trademark can be a logo, brand name, slogan, or any other unique identifier. By obtaining a trademark, you can protect your brand identity and prevent others from using a similar mark that may cause confusion in the marketplace. To register a trademark in California, you must first conduct a trademark search to ensure that the mark is not already in use by someone else. You can perform a trademark search on the USPTO website to also ensure the mark is not already in use.  

    Once you have determined that your mark is available, you can file a trademark application with the California Secretary of State. The application requires you to provide information about your business and the mark you wish to register. You must also provide a sample of how the mark is used in commerce. After you submit your application, it will be reviewed by an examiner. If the examiner approves your application, your mark will be published in the California Trademark Official Gazette for opposition. This means that anyone who believes they may be harmed by the registration of your mark has 30 days to file a complaint or opposition. If there are no oppositions, your mark will be registered, and you will receive a certificate of registration. Your trademark registration will last for ten years, and you can renew it for an additional ten-year period. 

    Frequently Asked Questions: 

    What is a trademark and why is it important? 

    • A trademark is a symbol, word, or phrase that identifies and distinguishes a particular product or service from others in the market. Trademarks help consumers recognize and differentiate between competing products or services. They also protect the reputation and goodwill of the trademark owner by preventing others from using a similar mark in a way that could confuse consumers or dilute the value of the mark. Registering a trademark with the appropriate government agency can provide additional legal protections and rights to the owner. 

    How long does a copyright last? 

    • In most countries, including the United States, a copyright typically lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years after their death. However, the length of copyright protection can vary depending on the type of work, the date of publication, and other factors. In some cases, works may fall into the public domain and be freely available for use and distribution without the need for permission or payment. 

    What happens if I use copyrighted material without permission? 

    • In general, the use of copyrighted material without permission from the owner is illegal and can result in legal action. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule, such as fair use in the United States, which allows for limited use of copyrighted material for purposes such as criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research.  

    Is there a difference between a trademark and copyright? 

    • While both trademarks and copyrights involve intellectual property protection, they serve different purposes. A trademark is used to protect branding and prevent confusion in the marketplace, while a copyright is used to protect creative works such as books, music, and artwork. Trademarks are generally registered with a government agency, while copyrights are automatically granted upon creation of the work even if it is not registered. Additionally, the length of protection and legal rights associated with each type of intellectual property can differ. 

    If you have any questions about trademarks or copyright registration, contact us today or call (909) 497-1349 to schedule your next appointment with our team of professional LDAs!