Trademarks and copyrights are both legal means to protect your new ideas. When you have trademarked or copyrighted your idea it prevents it from being stolen and used by someone else. It is very important that if you have a great business idea, business name, logo or piece of work etc. that you protect it!
Also, if you are a new business, you have to be very careful to not breach the trademark or copyrights of another Australian business. If you are found in breach, legal action is likely to be taken against you.
Both trademarks and copyright share a fairly similar purpose. However, they are not the same and they are used to protect different areas of work.
If you are new to the world of trademarks and copyrights and don’t fully understand how they work, don’t worry! This article is designed to assist you in finding out the basics and ensuring you are well informed if you are making a decision about how to best protect your new ideas.
A trademark for business should be used when a business or enterprise is looking to protect certain words and/ or design components that are specifically linked as a source of identification for a product. These word and/ or design components can include things such as logos or brand names.
If you are looking to protect your service then you will need a service mark. Here it protects the provider of a particular service as opposed to a tangible product. However, the term ‘trademark’ is regularly used in reference to both these tangible products and services.
Some areas of trademark breaches are clear, while others tend to rest in murky water. So for example, you would be in trouble legally if you tried to name your restaurant McDonalds, or even use the golden arches in your logo/ name.
However, where trademarks enter a grey area is around the ‘likelihood of confusion’. This is where a business uses a name or logo, etc. that is likely to make consumers confuse your business with another. It is a grey area because it is very difficult to measure the likelihood of confusion. However, the general rule of thumb is, a business is unable to use a name or symbol if it looks or sounds similar or even has a similar meaning to another business.
Copyrights are the legal protection of ‘works of authorship’. This includes works such as art, music, writings and architecture. When a piece of work is copyrighted, the owner has the exclusive right to share, display or perform the work.
Unlike a trademark, you don’t strictly have to apply for a copyright to ensure the protection of work. The work you produce is automatically considered the owners once the work is translated from idea to a tangible good like a CD or novel.
If you have created a tangible piece of work you are permitted to present a copyright announcement. As well as this you are able to showcase your work to anyone and sell it or make adaptations to the work.
If you feel as though someone else is trying to copy your work you can take legal action. It would help your own case if you documented the date and time to which your ideas took shape and where turned into a tangible product. This is also important just in case someone else claims you copied their work.