Trademark vs. Copyright

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Have you ever wondered as to the difference between a trademark and a copyright? This lesson explains what each one protects and how long each type of protection generally lasts.

Your Creation & Your Property

Let's say you've worked really hard to create something, a new sort of invention. You may have even spent a lot of money creating it. Shouldn't you have the legal right to protect your work from being stolen or used for nefarious purposes? Most people would say ''yes.''

One of the most famous means by which you can protect a creation is via a patent. For example, a unique light bulb can be patented. You're not only limited to legally protecting your unique tangible creations, like the light bulb. You can also legally protect your largely intangible creations. You can do this via a trademark or copyright. That's what this lesson is about.

What Is a Trademark?

A trademark protects things like symbols, slogans, logos, brand names, words, terms and/or phrases that identify a specific source of a product or good. A very similar term, but one applied to service providers, is a service mark. However, the word 'trademark' is commonly used to refer to both a trademark and a service mark.

You are definitely familiar with both of these concepts. Let's say you start a computer company. You also love apples. So it seems natural that you would call your computer company 'Apple.' You can't do that. At least, not anymore. That's because there already is an Apple in the computer world. Apple is a brand name. So, you'll have to think of another name for your computer company.

Ok, let's say that you're really sad now that you can't have a computer company named Apple. You decide to start a small store that sells a little bit of everything. You love playing darts, so you decide to have a company logo that looks like a red target, as per the store Target. You can't do that either. That's a trademarked logo.

A trademark can remain in place indefinitely, so long as the trademark is used for commercial purposes.

What Is a Copyright?

A trademark is not the same thing as a copyright. A copyright protects original and creative works like this lesson. If you start a blog and decide to copy and paste this lesson onto your blog, you'd be in big trouble. That's because this lesson is copyrighted courtesy of You can't use it without's permission.

Copyrighted works include far more than just a text lesson like this one or a personal blog post. Copyright protection extends to movies, books, poetry, songs/music, computer software and architecture.

There is some good news for anyone who wants to pilfer copyrighted material though. Provided you live long enough, of course. Unlike trademarks, which can theoretically last forever, copyrights are limited in duration. Before you gleefully go and copy everything into your blog without permission, investigate whether the copyright is still in place or not.

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