The Difference Between a Copyright and a Trademark

This is one of the most common questions I get asked as an attorney for influencers and entrepreneurs…”do I need copyright or trademark protect?” The answer is, it depends. Read on to learn more about the differences between the two.


The simple answer is this: while both copyrights and trademarks fall under intellectual property protection, they each protect different assets of your business.

  1. Copyright: Copyright is a law that gives the creator and owner of a creative work (think movie, book, painting, photo, song or website, etc.) the ownership rights to the work. It also gives the copyright owner the ability to dictate how other people can use it. If someone copies/reproduces/sells your copyrighted work without your permission, you can say they infringed on your copyright and you are granted certain protections under the law.

  2. Trademark: A trademark is any word, name, symbol, or design, or any combination thereof, used in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from those of another and to indicate the source of the goods. (See 15 U.S.C. § 1127) This could be your logo, brand, tagline, etc.

To make this a little clearer, let me give you an example. Say you are a photographer and your business name is “Camera Studios”. You would want to file trademark protection for the name of your business and any logo or tagline that you might want to protect as well. Now any photos you take will have copyright implications. The second you click that shutter and take the photo, copyright protection will automatically attach. You own the copyrights to that photo and do not need to file a copyright to own the copyright. However, you would want to file a copyright with the US Copyright Office to be able to better enforce your rights should someone infringe on them (say steal and sell your photo without your permission).

I realize trademark and copyright can be confusing. If you have questions about how you should protect your assets, feel free to schedule a free 15 minute insight call with me!