Cheeps from Hunter-McMain

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Your Easy Guide to Copyrights and Trademarks


Business Tips and Trends

Are you confused about the differences between those tiny symbols you see next to logos and images (©, TM, ®)?

A copyright is a form of legal protection granted by U.S. federal law to protect the authors (in our case, artists) of “original works of authorship” like paintings, books, logos, and photographs. A copyright is automatic at the time you create your work and make it available to the public. Copyright uses the symbol ©, which can be placed on the piece of work you created, without registering the symbol. You don’t need to register the work but there are advantages in doing so. A copyright registration is handled through the U.S. Copyright Office at, which is part of the Library of Congress. The symbol for a registered copyright is ®. Using the © only tells the world that you are claiming registration. Registration however, will prove that the work is yours. After you register your copyright, then you would use the ® sign.

Trademarks are for brand names, slogans, and logos. In both trademarks and copywriting, the owner has the right to exclude others from using their work without permission. A trademark requires a registration for protection. Trademarks are handled through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The application fee is between $275-$325 at Trademark rights can last forever, however, for trademark rights to continue, you have to use it, protect it against infringers, and renew it. When you create your trademarked slogan, name or logo you are permitted to use the symbol TM. Once it is registered, you are able to use the ® sign. Using this symbol without registration is illegal.


Author: The Cheeps

"The Cheeps" are the chick designers that run Cheep Cheep Postcards and Cheep Cheep Websites, two divisions of Hunter-McMain, Inc. We're here to provide fun information on advertising design, business tips, and holidays--sometimes random--we would like to celebrate with you.

3 thoughts on “Your Easy Guide to Copyrights and Trademarks

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Things Designers Hate #9: “Borrowed” Images | Cheeps from Hunter-McMain

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