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Writing - Copyrights and Trademarks Protect You

When most people consider writing a book, they don't thinkabout Trademarks. However, I highly recommend that youleverage your writing for multiple purposes, and that's whyregistering a Trademark for your concept is a good idea. Ifyou use your writing as the basis for workshops and otherproducts, it's in your best interests to protect yourconcepts with a Trademark.

To paraphrase the definition of a Trademark given at theofficial web site, a Trademark is a symbol, aword, a phrase, or a design, (or any combination), used toidentify and distinguish the unique source of goods. Notethat a Service Mark has the same definition as a Trademark,except as related to services instead of products.

You are not required to register a Mark. Instead, you canestablish your rights to the Mark with a record oflegitimate use of it. However, there are severaladvantages to owning a Mark that is federally registered.The most notable is your premier position if anyone elseshould attempt to use your Mark after your officialregistration date.

Regardless of whether you've made an application to theUSPTO for a federally registered Mark, you may use the TMand SM symbols any time you claim Mark rights. However, thefederal symbol for registration (encircled "R"), may onlybe used after the USPTO has received your application,processed it, and officially registered your Mark. One morething to note: the federal registration symbol can only beused in connection with the goods or services that arespecifically listed in the federal documents.

Of course, there is a difference among the purposes ofTrademarks, copyrights, and patents. Patents protect ainventions. Copyrights protect original literary orartistic work.

Your work is copyright protected under common law when youcreate it. And by printing the work with the copyrightnotification included, you have signified your claim to thework. However, to have it officially recorded, you willwant to register it with the Copyright Office. Keep in mindthat the government does not enforce the copyright. Ifsomeone were to infringe, it would be up to you to protectyour rights through a civil suit.

Contact the Copyright Office to get the forms. Call 202-707-3000 and request copyright package 109, or go to theweb site, and fill out form TX. Toregister your copyright of a book, take these steps: 1)Print the copyright notice on the copyright page (titlepage). You may use the word copyright, but "C" in a circlesays the same thing and is necessary for internationalprotection. Also, add "All rights reserved." The noticemust appear in all copies of the book to protect you. Thecopyright should be in the name of the owner. 2) Publishthe book. 3) Register your claim with the Copyright Officewithin three months of the book being published.

New copyright duration is for the author's life, plusfifty years. Since your ownership is part of your estate,mention it in your will. Everything is protected by thecopyright, (text, graphics, etc.), except titles. Titlescan't be copyrighted. However, does the title fit thedefinition of a Trademark? If so, you can claim it thatway. An example: "Chicken Soup for the Soul" is Trademarkedbecause it can't be copyrighted. No one actually would usethat title for their own creation, but if it weren'tTrademarked, anyone could legally profit from using thephrase to market other products.

Cover all your bases and use the means available toprotect your creation. By registering your copyright andyour rights in a Mark, the safeguards are prepared ifsomeone tried to use your work as their own.

As a publisher of the "A Guide To Getting It" book series,Marilyn J. Schwader has made a study of topics related towriting. She is contributing author of articles for Acorn Writing Newsyour premier resource on-line for information on writing.Find the archive of articles at:

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