Trademark vs. Copyright—The Important Distinction

Protecting your intellectual property is a tricky matter, as it can include symbols, designs, processes, logos, slogans, artwork, etc. Owners must register their work on the United States Patent and Trademark Office or the United States Copyright Office to enforce their ownership and rights. Deciding where to register can be challenging, and to do it properly, you need to know the difference between a trademark and copyright.

Once you learn the terminology, you will be able to discover everything about DMCA, learn how to copyright, what is a copyright claim, what protects your work other than the DMCA protection, and other valuable information.

What Property Is Protected by Trademarks?

As the United States Patent and Trademark Office indicates, a trademark protects:


  • Words
  • Names
  • Symbols
  • Sounds
  • Colors

In other words, a trademark is anything that represents your brand or business in a marketplace. Trademarks are not specifically used for legal purposes—they provide a great marketing opportunity to distinguish your product from others.

Registering a trademark prevents others from using your product or service without your permission. It also stops other companies or individuals from using a symbol or a brand name that looks like, sounds like, or has a similar meaning to the one that has been trademarked. 

It is important to note that the owner does not have to register a trademark, but it is preferable because of possible legal disputes.

What Is a Copyright?

Copyright represents the legal rights of the owner of intellectual property. Unlike trademarks, copyrights are created automatically together with the protected work. So, how does copyright work?

Copyright laws give the creator of the original work exclusive rights to further use and duplicate the content, and at the same time, prevent others from profiting from it. 

Copyrights protect literary, musical, dramatic, and artistic works, such as:

  • Art
  • Songs
  • Poetry
  • Novels
  • Movies
  • Research
  • Architecture
  • Computer software

In simple terms, the copyright protects any original work from the moment it’s created, as long as it is preserved in a tangible form. Being a copyright owner means that you can freely make copies of your work, distribute, and present it, either in public or online. You can also transfer these rights to a third party to use with your authorization. 

Copyrighting your work is not obligatory since you earned certain rights by making the original work, but it has its benefits. 

How To Register Trademarks and Copyrights

If your trademark isn’t registered, it is represented by the ™ sign. That means your trademark is protected by the common law applicable only in a limited geographic area. If you choose to register a trademark, it will be marked with the Ⓡ symbol. 

You can register a trademark at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and once you do that, you will have the trademark for the rest of the product’s or brand’s lifecycle. Before registering, you need to do the research with your trademark attorney to check whether it is already used by someone. If that’s not the case, the next step would be to submit your trademark application to the USPTO. 

Although not necessary, copyright registration is useful for legal purposes. You register a verifiable account with the date and content of your work, which you can later use as official evidence in cases of copyright infringement and plagiarism.

You can register by filing an application to the United States Copyright Office. When you register the copyright, your work will be distinguished by the Ⓒ symbol.

How long a copyright lasts can vary from case to case, but the general rule is that the copyright lasts as long as the original author is alive and additional 70 years.

Reporting Trademark or Copyright Violation

Copyright infringement or violation is the unauthorized use of copyrighted work. 

Trademark infringement may occur when one party uses a trademark similar to the trademark owned by another party. In case of copyright or trademark infringement, be sure to file a trademark or copyright notice as soon as you can.

Trademark infringements are usually dealt with in the state or federal court, depending on the circumstances. 

For copyright infringements, there are more practical options since the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) regulates these cases. Here are the step-by-step instructions on filing a DMCA report:

  1. Go to the DMCA website
  2. Enter takedown details
  3. Provide your account info
  4. Select the service you would like to use

The process is simple, but it’s quite pricey since you have to pay $100–$200 depending on the service.

File a DMCA Notice Using DoNotPay

DoNotPay’s useful feature allows you to file a DMCA notice in no time, without having to hire attorneys!

Open DoNotPay in any web browser and follow the instructions:

  1. Click on the DMCA Takedown feature
  2. Type the title of your work or a short description
  3. Enter the link to the website where the infringement occurred
  4. Provide the link to the website where the work was originally posted
  5. Confirm your contact details
  6. Click the Sign and Submit button

Once the issue is resolved, you will see it in the My Disputes tab and take further action.

Trademark vs. Copyright—The Main Differences

Although both offer protection of intellectual property, trademarks and copyrights protect different kinds of assets. See the overview of their important features in the table below:

Trademark Copyright
  • Applies to words, names, symbols, logos, sounds, colors
  • Has a ™ sign when it’s not registered and a Ⓡ sign after registration
  • Lasts indefinitely 
  • The registration fee varies from $225 to $275
  • Protects musical, artistic, literary, and dramatic work
  • Has a Ⓒ symbol
  • Lasts during the owner’s life and additional 70 years
  • Once it expires, the copyright cannot be registered again
  • The registration fee goes from $40 to $130 depending on the type of work and whether you opt for electronic or paper filing, plus additional fees

DoNotPay Provides Assistance in Dealing With Other Bureaucratic Issues

With the great features of DoNotPay, you won’t have to worry about submitting reports, asking for refunds, or even dealing with your bills. 

Filing a DMCA takedown notice is not the only service we provide. DoNotPay helps with copyright issues on platforms like Google or YouTube and gives instructions on how to copyright a song, video, or artwork.

We offer full assistance in managing various administrative problems you may encounter. Access DoNotPay from your web browser and resolve all those issues that stress you out!

We can help you to: