Lehigh Valley COPYRIGHT

COPYRIGHT: A copyright is a form of protection provided by U.S. law to anyone who creates "original works of authorship." Essentially, a copyright protects literary, musical, dramatic, artistic and other qualifying creative works. The Copyright Act of 1976 further clarified copyright protection: A copyright owner now has the exclusive right to reproduce the work; prepare spin-off works based on the copyrighted work; and to sell, perform and/or display the copyrighted work in public.

One of the nice things about copyrights is that securing such protection is fairly straightforward. Copyright protection is created the moment your work is fixed in a "tangible form of expression" (paper copy, CD, disk, videotaped performance, and the like) for the first time. In other words, once your story is put in writing, your song is transcribed as sheet music or recorded, or your creative work is given some fixed form, your copyright is automatically secured. From that moment on (assuming creation occurred after January 1, 1978), your work has copyright protection for your lifetime, plus 50 years after your death

Lehigh Valley TRADEMARK

TRADEMARK: Trademarks and service marks are applied to a manufacturer's or a seller's products and services to distinguish them in the marketplace--a valuable marketing tool, in some circumstances. A trademark or service mark prevents another person from offering a similar product or service confusingly similar to yours. If you don't register your trademark, you may be prohibited from using it by someone who has.

A logo can be a trademark, and many times they are used as such. But a trademark can be a separate symbol from the logo of the company. For instance, the familiar stagecoach symbol marks each GMC product, whether it's a Buick, Chevrolet or Pontiac. The stagecoach is GMC's trademark of quality and excellence but not its logo. On the other hand, "Ford" is that company's logo and trademark.

A trademark is a corporate symbol that contributes to the image the company is trying to build. It is a mark of quality and excellence that identifies that company as the manufacturer. Like the logo, a trademark can be a combination of color, typestyle and shape, or it can be just shape and color, like McDonald's golden arches.

There is also a legal side to the term "trademark." In the legal sense, a trademark is a form of protection of your corporate symbols from use by unauthorized parties. Trademark registration is filed through the Patent & Trademark Office of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

An important point to remember when filing for trademark protection is that a trademark is not a trade name. A trade name identifies the business. A trademark identifies the product. For instance, Entrepreneur Media is a trade name, while Entrepreneur is a trademark for the magazine.

There are generally four types of marks that can be federally registered: Trademarks: used to identify products Service marks: used to promote a service Collective marks: used by organizations or associations to identify themselves Certification marks: such as UL (Underwriters Laboratory) used to certify that a particular product has met the manufacturing standards of an impartial third-party regulatory group Although the 1946 Lanham Trademark Act provides a limited amount of protection to companies upon the "first use" of a symbol, you should register a trademark as quickly as possible.