Copyright and Trademarks – How to protect you work

You may have heard or been vaguely aware of Facebook announcing the rebrand of their social media platforms as ‘Meta’. In addition to this, you may also have seen its new logo which somewhat resembles a letter ‘m’ and an infinity symbol. However, this new logo hasn’t come about so smoothly and has already caused some issues, despite only having been announced weeks ago.  

A German health company called ‘M-Sense’ who specialises in treating migraines, has an almost identical logo but in green compared to the blue used by ‘Meta’. Take a look for yourself:

 

“We are very honoured that @facebook felt inspired by the logo of our migraine app – maybe they’ll get inspired by our data privacy procedures as well”  – M-Sense

We admire their humour and imagine the situation really is a headache for them, but in all seriousness, here are some ways you can protect your work and prevent this from happening to you. 

Trademarking 

There are many ways in which you can legally protect your work and prevent anyone from using, copying or selling it without your permission, one of which is a trademark. A trademark can be any word, phrase, symbol, design or a combination of these that represents your goods and services. It allows customers to easily recognise you and help you stand out from competitors within your industry. It identifies your ownership and provides legal protection. Once you have that, it will prevent any counterfeiting of your name, inventions, design and anything you produce. 

There are 2 types of Trademarking you can use: a registered trademark and an unregistered trademark. Lucky for you we have made a list on either one to help you understand the difference between them: 

® Registered Trademark 

  • High level legal protection  
  • The symbol will warn others that this belongs to you and you can take legal action against them if they use your brand without your permission 
  • Lasts 10 years (will need to be renewed) 
  • Costs £170 to complete an application and £50-£200 to renew 
  • Can take up to 4 months to register (if no one opposes your application) 

™ Unregistered trademark 

  • Shows your intent to register. You may be about to or be in the process of registering, but it has not been definitively done so.  
  • Free! 
  • Has no full legal protection but can be used to support you if any disputes were to arise 

It is important to note that once you have registered your trademark, you only have the rights to the specific logo, phrase, keyword etc within the specific class you work in. Take Work Clever Digital for example. We are trademarked within the computer hardware and business admin class. This doesn’t mean no one else outside of those specific classes wouldn’t be able to use the same name.  

 

What is copyright? 

Similar to trademarking, copyright protects your work and prevents other people from using it without your permission. Once your work has been completed, and if your work is computer-generated, simply add the copyright symbol (©), your name and the year of creation. Thankfully, copyright protections apply automatically without the need to register or pay a fee. However, once your work has expired, so has your protection and anyone can use or copy your work. Unlike a trademarks 10 year expiration, copyright lasts the lifetime of the person who created it, as well as 50 years after their death. After this time, anyone will be able to use your work.  

Copyright prevents people from: 

  • Copying your work 
  • Distributing copies of your work 
  • Renting or lending copies of your work 
  • Performing, showing or playing your work in public 
  • Making an adaptation of your work 
  • Putting your work on the internet 

Which should you choose? 

You’ve gone through the process of getting your logo and branding designed, got a sparkly new website set up, now what I hear you ask? We would suggest doing as much research as you can into each level of protection. Search if any trademark Make sure the source of your information is correct and reliable. We would recommend the gov.uk website or even reach out to a solicitor to get the best information. 

How to register a Trademark? 

  1. Check if your brand qualifies for a trademark by going to the gov website: https://www.gov.uk/how-to-register-a-trade-mark/what-you-can-and-cant-register  
  2. Apply to register your trademark: https://www.gov.uk/how-to-register-a-trade-mark/start-your-application  
  3. Respond to any oppositions (if there are any) 

We hope this has brought some insight. However, it is important to fully research which method of protecting your brand will work best for you and your business. The information above is the research we have done and WCD can in no way advise which is best for you, that can only be decided by yourself depending on the level of cover you want and how much you are willing to spend (if you’re even wanting to spend anything at all!)  

For more information, visit www.gov.uk/browse/business/intellectual-property 

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