How to Copyright a Name

January 16, 2014

Clients new to the process of trademark registration sometimes ask first “how to copyright a name?”  People confuse the terms trademark and copyrights, since patents trademark and copyrights were long ago lumped together by tradition.  They are in fact separate and completely different areas of law and expertise.   The correct question to ask is “how to trademark a name?” There is no such thing as copyright protection for a name. Instead, a copyright protects the artistic expression of an idea, such as a song, book, photograph, or art. The name of a product or service is covered by a US trademark, so “trademarking a name” is the more appropriate phrase. A trademark serves to identify and distinguish one merchant’s product or service from another.

A trademark registration is filed with the US Trademark Office in Washington, D.C. The trademark registration process takes approximately 8-12 months from the date of filing. The filing can be based upon prior actual use, or upon by filing an Intent to Use application prior to launching your product or service.

Before launching a new product or service, and certainly before one files for a trademark registration, it is important to search trademarks pending or registered at the US Trademark Office as well as the state trademark registration listing in all 50 states, common law directories and domain names containing the proposed mark.

Listen and learn from Cheryl Hodgson and Bill Finkelstein in a free video on selecting a good trademark,