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Trademark and Copyright; Are They Not the Same?

Vakil Search
30th Oct 2012
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Trademarks vs Copyrights

 Considering the complexities of the Intellectual property law, it is very common that many people confuse the terms especially with regards to Copyright and Trademarks. More often than not, when our customers apply for a trademark, they themselves aren’t sure if it is a trademark or a copyright they want/need. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to help you understand the difference between Copyright and Trademarks and how they serve two different purposes.

Copyright A person who has a copyright over something is a person, as the word suggests, who has the right to create and/or sell copies of that thing. This

could be a literary piece like a novel or essay, the lyrics of a song, the song’s tune, a movie reel etc.Trademark As the name suggests again, is a mark with which represents the trade of a business. It is basically any sign or an indicator which is used by a business which makes it identifiable in the marketplace by customers. In markets where there is considerable competition, a trademark acts as a differentiator, making it easy for your customers to identify your products. Examples of popular trademarks are the Nike “swoosh”, the Blackberry symbol etc.

Case Study 1 - simple differentiation

Let’s take a case study here. Flipkart.com started business, and very quickly, their name and symbol becomes associated with affordable prices, wide range of products and timely delivery (in most cases!). Hence, it became important for flipkart to get exclusive rights to trade with that name and logo so that no one else enjoys or tarnishes the trust flipkart’s customers have by using a similar name or logo. Hence, Flipkart here must go in for a trademark registration.

Sometime later, flipkart.com hires an analyst and asks him to research what exactly it is about the website that makes customers want to buy products from there apart from prices and range. On conducting a survey, the analyst came out with the results that the blog on the website has gained a lot of followers who have found the content very entertaining and hence created some sort of brand loyalty there. So to make sure, that before someone else copies this content and uses this content on their own site to garner public interest, flipkart.com files for a copyright.

So, as illustrated here an organisation may need a trademark and a copyright depending on the nature of the intellectual property.

Case Study 2 - dual applicability

Recently, KFC came out with a slogan “it’s finger lickin’ good”, which has gained some considerable popularity, and hence, without a doubt had been trademarked by KFC. However, KFC also recently came out with a jingle having the slogan as it’s lyrics. So they had the lyrics and the tune copyrighted.

So as illustrated here, a thing can be trademarked or copyrighted, completely depending on what what it has been put to use for.

As the internet continues to expand, its capacity to disseminate information and knowledge has also increased, making Intellectual Property rights extremely important in the online world. Information and knowledge are sources of value in today’s world. E-Commerce, more than any other business, often involves the sale of products and services based on Intellectual Property. IPRs are important to E-Commerce as the internet is the best way to distribute Intellectual Property. In such businesses, all the websites and its content are protected by Copyright Laws including all the images, texts, graphics, music, etc. However, the business names, logos, product names, domain names and all other signs posted on the website are protected by trademarks. An individual must ensure all such information is protected by Intellectual Property rights and also ensure they are not infringing anyone else’s Intellectual property.

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