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Protecting Your Brand vs. Protecting Your Creations: A Breakdown of Key Differences between Trademark and Copyright for Utah Creators and Businesses

Both trademarks and copyrights are forms of intellectual property (IP) protection, but they safeguard different types of creations and have different purposes. Here’s a breakdown of the key differences applicable in both US and Utah Law:

What do Trademarks and Copyrights Protect?

Understanding the Subject Matter


Protects distinctive words, phrases, symbols, designs, or logos used to identify and distinguish the source of goods or services offered by a particular business.

This includes brand names, product packaging, slogans, and logos.


Protects original works of authorship including literary, musical, dramatic, artistic, and certain other intellectual creations.

Examples include written works, songs, musical compositions, paintings, sculptures, movies, software code, and architectural designs.

Purpose of Trademarks and Copyrights:

Preventing Confusion and Protecting Your Work


Prevents consumer confusion and protects a brand's reputation and goodwill. It ensures customers can easily associate a specific trademark with its corresponding source and avoid being misled by similar marks used by competitors.


Grants the creator or copyright holder exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, or create derivative works based on the copyrighted work. This allows creators to control how their works are used and benefit from their creation.

Registering Trademarks and Copyrights:

Strengthening Protection and Simplifying Enforcement


While not mandatory, registration with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or the Utah Division of Corporations and Commercial Code strengthens legal protection and simplifies enforcement. However, some common law trademark rights can arise through use in commerce even without formal registration.


Generally, automatic upon creation of an original work. However, registering your copyright with the US Copyright Office provides several benefits such as establishing a public record of ownership, strengthening legal presumptions in an infringement case, and allowing for statutory damages in certain situations.

The Lifespan of Protection:

Comparing Trademark and Copyright Duration


Can be perpetually renewed as long as the mark is in continuous use in commerce.


The general duration for published works in the US is the author's life plus 70 years. For unpublished works, the copyright lasts for 120 years from creation or 95 years from publication, whichever is shorter.

Young Content Creator Protecting Brand And Unique Works With Trademaryoung Content Creator Protecting Brand And Unique Works With Trademark And Copyrightk And Copyright

Enforcing Your Rights:

How Trademarks and Copyrights Combat Infringement


The owner can take legal action against infringement, which can involve seeking an injunction to stop the infringement, recovering damages, and potentially obtaining attorneys' fees.


Similar to trademarks, copyright owners can sue for infringement to prevent unauthorized use and recover damages, including statutory damages in some cases.

Utah Specificity:


Both Federal Trademark Law and Utah State Trademark Law follow similar principles regarding the protection of trademarks and the registration process


Federal Copyright Law applies throughout the US, including Utah, and governs copyright protection for all original works created within the US or by US citizens.

In summary, while both trademarks and copyrights offer protection under US and Utah law, they serve distinct purposes and apply to different types of intellectual property. Understanding these differences is crucial for creators and businesses to choose the appropriate form of protection for their specific needs.

Now You Know the Difference

Protect Your Work with Confidence

Understanding the distinctions between trademarks and copyrights empowers you to make informed decisions about safeguarding your intellectual property.

Need a trademark or have further questions?

Fillmore Spencer's Trademark Specialist Attorneys offer free consultations to address your specific needs and guide you through the trademark registration process.

Do you have a unique creation in need of protection?

Our comprehensive step-by-step guide equips you with the knowledge to register your copyright yourself.

Barnard N. Madsen is a seasoned lawyer with over 35 years of experience, and a founder partner of Fillmore Spencer LLC. His practice focuses on intellectual property, particularly trademarks, employment law, commercial litigation, and appeals. Barney’s clients have consistently praised him for his thoroughness, quickness, and knowledge.  He has been named to Utah’s Legal Elite and is highly recommended on Alignable.

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