Wednesday, April 1, 2009

copyrights and trademarks

Note:  This post is part of my four weeks of marketing project.  I am not an expert on copyright law or trademarks, and I am definitely not a lawyer. 

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?


Grammatically Delicious Designs said...

No, but you did a really good job of explaining the difference between the two. I also realized that I don't have anything that could be trademarked or copywrited yet. I guess I will have to get my 'thinker' working. Great job though. And I love the cozy/cuff. Have you considered calling it CozyCuff without the backslash. I like the look of that better, but then again, what do I know!! hehe


Janice said...

I have no experience in it all but totally appreciate your sharing what you've learned. It may help me some day! THANK YOU!!!

I also like the name cozycuff - but at 300ish -- I'd be VERY sure thats the name you want to stick with - guess that is my only piece of advice, Give the name serious consideration.



megan said...

thanks ladies - you've inspired me to go post about the name in a little more detail!