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How to Protect your Creative Ideas with Trademarks and Copyrights

Oftentimes people use the terms trademark and copyright interchangeably. They make a mistake in doing so – trademarks and copyrights serve different purposes. As you will read, situations exist where businesses will use both trademarks and copyrights for the same thing, but to do this, one must know the difference of trademarks and copyrights.

What Are Copyrights?

Copyrights protect creative works such as books, photographs, and artwork. For copyright protection to work, a creator must create something tangible. That means that copyright law does not offer protection to ideas or other ephemera.


Copyright law helps creators when someone copies their work. This type of unlawful copying is called copyright infringement, and the court may impose severe penalties for it.


To prove copyright infringement, a copyright holder must establish a valid copyright and that original material was used illegally. To prove a valid copyright, the plaintiff can produce a copyright certificate or other proof that establishes the date the copyrighted material was created.


What Are Trademarks?

Trademarks protect creators’ brands. Trademarks ensure that a brand can identify a company’s goods or services. A strong brand allows a company to build brand loyalty and reputation. Brand loyalty and reputation often translate directly into growth!


Trademark infringement occurs when someone uses a brand that is too close to another brand. Having more than one brand confuses consumers and damages the reputation of companies. That’s why the law protects trademarks.


Trademark vs. Copyright: The Overlap You Should Know About

Most creative businesses use both trademarks and copyrights. Every company has a brand protected by trademark law. Innovative businesses create original works protected by copyright law. Part of the process of using these tools would be to understand what you can register as a copyright and what you can register as a trademark.


Know also that overlaps exist. For instance, businesses routinely seek both copyright and trademark protection for creative works that serve as a brand, such as logos. Talking with an Intellectual Property Savvy Lawyer helps to make sense of these things.


Registration Process for Trademarks and Copyrights

Businesses register both copyrights and trademarks. Business owners face a more complex trademark registration process. While copyright registration may be easier, applicants must do it properly.


Trademark registration provides benefits to protect your brand. Copyright registration provides benefits to protect your creative works from being copied.


In both cases, getting legal advice on the uses of trademarks and copyrights from a lawyer before beginning the process can help you avoid pitfalls that snare the unwary. AffordableLaw offers the most consistent and personalised Intellectual Property Protection service in Nigeria. Contact askalawyer@affordablelaw.ng to learn more today.


Here are a few tips on how to protect your ideas;

Ideas have little value

An idea, by itself, has little value. Until something is put into a concrete form, there is often little that can be done with it (note that there are situations where the idea itself does have value, so speak to a lawyer to better understand that). It can be tempting to jump to protecting an idea when there hasn’t actually been investment in the idea.


It’s the expression that matters

Since ideas have little value on their own, the execution of that idea matters. In fact, when you deal with something like copyright protection, the law makes a clear distinction between an idea and the expression of an idea. For example, an expression of an idea can get copyright protection, but the idea cannot.


Ideas can turn into intellectual property

Think of the expression of the idea as intellectual property. Generally, a few flavors of intellectual property exist: copyright, trademark, industrial design, patents. With most of these flavors of intellectual property, tangible items give rise to intellectual property protection. It’s always important to have strategies for protecting intellectual property, once it has been created.


Ideas may be protected in multiple ways

Turning an idea into a business involves many things: getting customers, building a brand, research and product development, marketing, etc. That means that your business will be composed of many different kinds of intellectual property: trademarks, copyrights, patents and industrial design. As you may have guessed, building a business out of an idea is hard work and that work requires protection.


To be clear, ideas and conversations about ideas can have value and they should be protected but the real value in any creative business is the intellectual property that is created from the ideas.


If you’ve got any questions about protecting your Intellectual Property send us an email to askalawyer@affordablelaw.ng

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