Aubrey, TX asked in Copyright, Trademark and Intellectual Property for Texas

Q: If I have created a cartoon character (original drawing) how do I protect it from being used (name or design) by others?

I have a character that I have designed and I have a name for that character. I plan to feature the character in merchandise, apparel, comic strips, digital media, original stories, posters and other artwork. How can I protect my character and character name from being used by other businesses or artists? Can I trademark the character? If so, how? What will I submit in order to do that?

2 Lawyer Answers
Fritz-Howard Raymond Clapp
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  • Trademarks Lawyer
  • Beverly Hills, CA

A: The cartoon character can be the subject of a copyright registration, and its name can be a registered trademark.

You should register the copyright of a set of drawings that show the character in various poses from different angles.

Then, if the name of the character is novel and sufficiently distinctive, you should apply for the trademark.

Consult with a qualified copyright and trademark attorney for registration of the copyright and the trademark. Before you commit to naming the character, the trademark attorney will perform a search and render an opinion on whether the name is capable of registration for all the uses you anticipate; for instance, if you might sell merchandise with the character's name it should be registered for apparel, as well as for printed matter.

Erik Špila agrees with this answer

Erik Špila
Erik Špila
  • Trademarks Lawyer
  • Senec, Slovakia

A: I would like to add to the answer from the colleague, that sometimes and in some jurisdiction it can also be efficient to register the cartoon character as an industrial design. Contacting qualified intellectual property expert in the area in which you would like to use/trade under this character of yours, is highly recommended.

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