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copyright lockQUESTION: What are copyrights and trademarks? Do I need any for my business?

ANSWER: When you file a trademark application for your company’s name with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and your mark is officially registered, your business’s identity is officially protected because no other businesses in the United States can legally use your name. Owning a trademark also helps customers easily identify goods and services in the marketplace. The USPTO provides a primer on trademark basics here.

A copyright is a form of protection under the laws of the U.S. to the authors of any “original works of authorship.” A copyright protects things such as literary works, sound recordings and architectural works. When you register your copyright, you’re creating a public record of your work and your copyright claim. If anyone tries to infringe on your copyright, you have the ability to sue and can recover damages for the infringement.

Filing for a trademark and copyright are smart moves to make for your company to protect your business’s identity and integrity. Consult a lawyer familiar with intellectual property if you have specific questions or want to avoid pitfalls.

Got a question for Deborah? Ask it in the comment section.

Are you looking to open a small business? Here are a few more helpful articles from Deborah Sweeney to get you started:

10 Things to Know When Starting  a Business in 2014 
Should I Form a Manager-Managed LLC?
What is an EIN and Why Do I Need One? 
Do I Need a Business License?
How to Form an LLC

Image credit: Flickr user Irish Typepad

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