I just filed for my first copyright with the US Government!
Although copyrights and trademarks aren't technically part of marketing the cozy/cuff, I wanted to make sure my design was protected, in case my four weeks of marketing pay off so well that suddenly everyone wants to copy the cozy/cuff. (Dare to dream!) So I started by researching both copyrights and trademarks, to see which was applicable to me.
Here's a little summary of what I learned: copyright covers "original works of authorship" like books, screenplays, music, and visual arts. Technically, your work is copyrighted the moment it is created - however, you can protect that copyright by registering with the United States Copyright Office. If you have a case that would go to court, they will want to see proof of copyright through the US Copyright Office.
It turns out that filing for a copyright is pretty easy. You fill out a form online, pay your $35 fee, and upload some images of your work. Then you wait (apparently up to six months).
Now you may be wondering what exactly copyright covers - it basically covers the actual cozy/cuff - its design, materials, and derivations of those. It does not cover the idea of the cozy/cuff (meaning I couldn't sue every person who made a coffee cup cozy that doubles as a bracelet), just its design. Copyright also doesn't cover the name cozy/cuff.
That's where trademark comes in. In order to protect the name cozy/cuff, I have to file for a trademark. The process is a little more complicated and a lot more expensive (to the tune of $300). Basically, a trademark protects a name or logo as it pertains to a good or service. That means if I were to file a trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office for the name cozy/cuff, then no one else could use it for goods in related categories. (Or something like that, I'm still figuring it out.)
I think I am going to apply for a trademark, but I want to do a little more research first. $300 is a lot to spend until I know what I'm getting into.
Does anyone out there have any experience with copyrights or trademarks they're willing to share?