To begin with, a copyright and trademark are two different things; governed by two separate departments and two separate laws – so, there are a lot of differences!
Are signs used to distinguish the goods and services of one trader from those of another trader; a ‘badge of origin’ so we as consumers can tell where a product or service originated. A trademark can be a name, image, logo, slogan, colour, smell, sound, shape (or combination of these things) so long as it is capable of distinguishing in this manner.
Trademarks require official registration in order to claim ownership and protection. Without official registration you may claim something is your ‘trademark’, but, you are not provided with legally enforceable rights to that ‘trademark’ unless you go through the official process.
Trademarks are registered in 10 yearly blocks. You can own a trademark indefinitely so long as you renew it each 10 years, and continue to use the trademark.
Copyright covers ‘works’ that are original and to some degree creative. ‘Works’ generally includes literary works (books, poems, web content etc); artistic works (sculptures, paintings, photographs etc); dramatic works (plays, film etc) amongst other things. Copyright does not protect the name given to these works, or logos you may use to promote these works.
Copyright is automatic so you do not need to register. If you are the original creator/author, then you are entitled to display a copyright notice, and, you are provided the right to communicate your work to the public, promote it for sale and make alterations or adaptations to that work. If you find someone else is copying your work you may be entitled to take infringement action.
If you wish to use someone else’s copyrighted works, you should seek permission. Simply attributing the owner is not usually a safe way to ensure you avoid infringement.
For works created since January 2005, copyright generally lasts for the life time of the creator or author + 70 years. Where the duration is dependent on the year of publication, copyright will last for 70 years after it is first published.
In both cases, a copyright and trademark are types of intellectual property. These are intangible assets belonging to a person or entity, which may be sold, assigned or licensed as the owner deems appropriate. To register a trademark or clarify your own copyright protection, call us on 1300 544 755.