Let’s go over copyrights and trademarks briefly. Copyright protects original works of authorship. A trademark protects words, phrases, symbols, or designs identifying the source of the goods or services. A patent, which is different from either of these, protects inventions or new discoveries. All of these are designed to protect intellectual property. This helps prevent others from unlawfully copying your work. You can copyright a book, article, short story, or an essay. You can trademark a book series, logo, phrase, or symbol. You can patent an invention, process, or machine.
See the difference?
My study guide series, the Passkey EA Review, is a series of books about the IRS Enrolled Agent exam. The series name is protected by a trademark. This means that, although another author may write a study guide for the Enrolled Agent exam, no one else may use the name “Passkey EA Review.” You can also trademark a logo. For example, let’s say your publishing company is called “Ocean Publications”. If you were to adopt a custom logo of a mermaid, you could trademark your logo. You can register a trademark yourself online for $275 at: www.uspto.gov.
All my books are protected by copyright. You are automatically granted copyright when you produce your book. Copyright exists from the moment the work is created. The copyright protection is automatic. However, you may prefer to register your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office.
Registration is voluntary. Authors may choose to register their works because they want their work to be registered in the public record and have a certificate of registration. You must register your work before you bring a lawsuit for copyright infringement.15 An online registration of an original work of authorship costs $35 at the U.S. Copyright Office website.
Go to: www.copyright.gov/register
U.S. law protects your copyright until seventy years after your death. If you want to know more about copyright law and how to register your copyright, consider purchasing Nolo Press’ excellent book, The Copyright Handbook: What Every Writer Needs to Know. It will show you how to register a copyright for your book. The book also goes over the “fair use” doctrine, which is a sticky part of copyright law that all authors should understand.
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