Castle Rock, CO asked in Trademark, Copyright and Intellectual Property for Colorado

Q: I’m planning to get a trademark for my company name and slogan. Should I get a copyright for the different artwork?

It is a T-shirt company that will have a variety of artwork along with our basic name and slogan.

3 Lawyer Answers
Kevin Michael Strait
Kevin Michael Strait
  • Trademarks Lawyer
  • Fort Collins, CO
  • Licensed in Colorado

A: Trademarks and copyright protection are good business protection tools, but these two areas of law can be confusing.

Trademarks protect words slogans, phrases, and graphic art (such as a logo) that are used to identify a brand or a product's seller in the marketplace. Two companies can sell exactly the same thing under different brands. A great example is fresh produce at the grocery store; vegetables from one farmer's field might be sold at different stores under different brands. Thus, trademarks do not protect the contents of your goods and services, but instead protect your identity as a seller in the marketplace.

In contrast, copyright protection protects the contents of your goods and services. Copyright protection only protects works of authorship, which includes t-shirts and artwork from your question. The list of artistic works that can be protected by copyright is in 17 USC § 102 and is worth a quick look.

As general advice, and not legal counsel specific to your situation, ask yourself this question: Are you worried that a competitor would sell T-shirts as if they came from your brand, or are you worried that a competitor would sell T-shirts that replicate your artwork? Protecting your brand and slogan is done through trademark, and protecting your artwork is done through copyright.

Fritz-Howard Raymond Clapp agrees with this answer

Fritz-Howard Raymond Clapp
Fritz-Howard Raymond Clapp pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Trademarks Lawyer
  • Beverly Hills, CA

A: The company's trademark can be plain text, text with a graphic design, or a graphic design alone. You could also separately register the copyright in the graphic element if it is an original work. And if the products have original graphics, they can also be registered as copyrighted works. You should consult a qualified copyright/trademark attorney to advise regarding the adoption and registration of the trademark, and to register the copyrights in the artwork.

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›

A: Yes, it is a good idea to obtain copyright protection for any original artwork that you create and use on your T-shirts. Trademarks protect brand names, logos, and slogans that distinguish a company's products or services from those of others. Copyrights protect original works of authorship, such as artwork, music, and literature, from being copied or reproduced without permission. By obtaining both trademark and copyright protection, you can protect both your brand and your creative works. It is recommended to consult with a trademark and copyright attorney to ensure your intellectual property is adequately protected.

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