Categories: FAQs And Resources

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Published March 28, 2021

Catherine Cavella, ESQ.



What is the difference between the Trademark Symbol ™ and © – Copyright Symbol? What is the difference between trademark and copyright?


Believe it or not, there is a difference between a trademark and a copyright. If you have a unique business, service or startup, you need to know the difference between a trademark and copyright.  You will also need TO learn how to use the Copyright Symbol to protect your most import intellectual property. IP WORKS LAW has the answers and has summed it up for you.


Most people use the terms copyright and trademark interchangeably, and we see the symbols (™, ©, ®) everywhere. They have some similarities, but they mean different things


  • Like a trademark, you don’t need to file anything to have a copyright.
  • Like a trademark, you can benefit from registering a copyright but it is not required.
  • Unlike a trademark, you use the same copyright symbol whether your copyright is registered or unregistered.
  • Unlike a trademark, you register a copyright in the United States with the Copyright Office, , which is part of the Library of Congress.
  • Unlike trademarks, Copyrights expire and cannot be renewed.


How to use the Copyright symbol 


The C or Copyright Symbol is what you use to tell the world that you are claiming copyright in something.


What is a copyright? Copyright is the right to control use and distribution of an “original work of creative expression.” For purposes of this article, all you need to know is that:


  • You cannot “copyright” a name, brand, slogan, tagline, invention or idea.
    • Names, brands, slogans, taglines – those can only be protected as trademarks.
    • Inventions or ideas – those can only be protected as patents, except
    • An idea that is “merged” into a copyrighted work may be protected to some extent as a copyright (this is a complex topic for a later article, and it doesn’t apply or protect you except in special situations).
  • Slapping a © or copyright symbol after your brand, slogan or logo does not protect it.
  • Slapping a © or copyright symbol on your invention drawings or writeup does not prevent someone from making your invention and using or selling it.
  • Slapping a © or copyright symbol on your webpage or blogpost or photo or diagram or infographic DOES prevent someone else from using it or selling it or publishing it or sharing it without your permission.
    • Obviously, the © isn’t magic – it won’t literally prevent them from copying or sharing. But it will allow you to go after them and demand they immediately stop, take it down, and/or pay you money. This is called “enforcing” or your copyright.
  • You should use © copyright symbol on everything you write, draw, create, compose, if:
    • You publish it or are planning to publish it (either by posting it, putting it on your website, sending it to your mailing list, etc.); AND
    • It is your original work – not copied from something else; AND
    • You don’t want to donate it to the public – in other words, you would not be happy if someone copied it and used it, whether or not they made money from it.


If you have created something and answered yes to those three questions, then consider it your copyrighted material and use the copyright symbol. Here’s an example to show you how to use the copyright symbol:


Formula: © “Copyright” +Year + Owner Name. “All rights reserved.” For the year, use the year you completed working on it. For the Owner, use your name or your company’s name, depending on who owns the copyright. Example: © Copyright 2017 Cavella & Associates, PLLC. All rights reserved.


To learn more about copyright ownership and how to decide who owns or should own your copyrights, contact IP WORKS LAW. Our team knows exactly what you need to enforce your copyright rights.


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Since 1992, Catherine Cavella, Esq. Her focus on Trademark Law and Copyright Law for the last few decades gives her deep insights into the fundamental principles behind the rules. Catherine regularly writes about new developments in trademark law, copyright law, and internet law.