What about trademarks, how are they different to copyright?

What about trademarks, how are they different to copyright?

Some artists do not understand the difference between a trademark and copyright so I thought I should explain it further. Please check out my post on copyright if you want to know more about that side of things!

Basically a trademark  is something often referred to as a “brand” or “logo” and you use it to distinguish the goods and/or services of one business or person from those of other businesses or people in the marketplace. Trade marks include things like words, names, symbols and logos. For instance I have a trademark for the word ‘Boozehag’ which is for my character Boozehag and the associated merchandise and artwork created in that name. Basically anything that distinctly identifies you or your company can be a trade mark just like Boozehag is for mine.

The main purpose of a trade mark is to make sure the public are able to identify a product of a particular person or business from the same or similar products provided by their competitors. Trade marks are used to represent and protect not only actual goods and services, but the reputation of their producer. As such, they are considered to be valuable intellectual property.

You don’t have to register your trademarks but it is highly recommended that you do as the registration of your trade mark gives you the exclusive right to use the mark in New Zealand for 10 years, please note that you do need to renew this every ten years afterwards.

Once a trade mark is registered, you can legally use the ® symbol. So if someone is using the ™ symbol instead it can indicate that the trader is using a sign as a trade mark but does not indicate whether the sign is registered or not.

In the news last week was an article about the ‘Wellywood’ sign that Wellington (The capital of New Zealand) are planning on erecting in the Miramar hills near Wellington airport due to all the International type movie-making going on there like Lord of the Rings etc. The sign is designed as a copy of the iconic ‘Hollywood’ sign in LA even to the type of lettering used which is what brings it to the attention of trademark laws. Apparently the Hollywood sign has a trademark and for Wellington to use their sign it will be violating the trademark laws. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.

So back on track, basically a trademark you pay for, a copyright you don’t. As an artist copyright is automatic to your creations and trade-marking is another whole ball game. It is not necessary to trademark your work in normal situations.

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Posted: Tuesday 16 March 2010


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