Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Writing - Copyrights and Trademarks Protect You by Marilyn Schwader

When most people consider writing a book, they don't think
about Trademarks. However, I highly recommend that you
leverage your writing for multiple purposes, and that's why
registering a Trademark for your concept is a good idea. If
you use your writing as the basis for workshops and other
products, it's in your best interests to protect your
concepts with a Trademark.

To paraphrase the definition of a Trademark given at the
official web site http://www.uspto.gov/, a Trademark is a symbol, a
word, a phrase, or a design, (or any combination), used to
identify and distinguish the unique source of goods. Note
that a Service Mark has the same definition as a Trademark,
except as related to services instead of products.

You are not required to register a Mark. Instead, you can
establish your rights to the Mark with a record of
legitimate use of it. However, there are several
advantages to owning a Mark that is federally registered.
The most notable is your premier position if anyone else
should attempt to use your Mark after your official
registration date.

Regardless of whether you've made an application to the
USPTO for a federally registered Mark, you may use the TM
and SM symbols any time you claim Mark rights. However, the
federal symbol for registration (encircled "R"), may only
be used after the USPTO has received your application,
processed it, and officially registered your Mark. One more
thing to note: the federal registration symbol can only be
used in connection with the goods or services that are
specifically listed in the federal documents.

Of course, there is a difference among the purposes of
Trademarks, copyrights, and patents. Patents protect a
inventions. Copyrights protect original literary or
artistic work.

Your work is copyright protected under common law when you
create it. And by printing the work with the copyright
notification included, you have signified your claim to the
work. However, to have it officially recorded, you will
want to register it with the Copyright Office. Keep in mind
that the government does not enforce the copyright. If
someone were to infringe, it would be up to you to protect
your rights through a civil suit.

Contact the Copyright Office to get the forms. Call 202-
707-3000 and request copyright package 109, or go to the
web site, http://www.loc.gov/copyright and fill out form TX. To
register your copyright of a book, take these steps: 1)
Print the copyright notice on the copyright page (title
page). You may use the word copyright, but "C" in a circle
says the same thing and is necessary for international
protection. Also, add "All rights reserved." The notice
must appear in all copies of the book to protect you. The
copyright should be in the name of the owner. 2) Publish
the book. 3) Register your claim with the Copyright Office
within three months of the book being published.

New copyright duration is for the author's life, plus
fifty years. Since your ownership is part of your estate,
mention it in your will. Everything is protected by the
copyright, (text, graphics, etc.), except titles. Titles
can't be copyrighted. However, does the title fit the
definition of a Trademark? If so, you can claim it that
way. An example: "Chicken Soup for the Soul" is Trademarked
because it can't be copyrighted. No one actually would use
that title for their own creation, but if it weren't
Trademarked, anyone could legally profit from using the
phrase to market other products.

Cover all your bases and use the means available to
protect your creation. By registering your copyright and
your rights in a Mark, the safeguards are prepared if
someone tried to use your work as their own.

As a publisher of the "A Guide To Getting It" book series, Marilyn J. Schwader has made a study of topics related to writing. She is contributing author of articles for Acorn Writing News [http://acornwriting.com] your premier resource on-line for information on writing. Find the archive of articles at: [http://www.acornwriting.com/]

1 comment:

MacAttaq said...

Hi Marilyn, most of your article contains good information. However, the duration of a copyright is the author's life plus 70 years. See 17 USC §302(a). §302(b) and (c) give some additional qualifications that might extend the life of the copyright depending on the circumstances surrounding publication.