How to Copyright a Business Name

Copyright is an intellectual property that protects your original work from impostors. You can copyright several aspects of your business but not the name itself. Read on to learn how you can protect your business name and brand.

What Is Copyright?

Protecting your business name is essential to ensure nobody profits from your hard work and uses your business name unfairly.

Copyrighting is a way to protect your work. It covers literary, graphic, musical, and dramatic works. The government provides a form of protection that governs who can ‘copy’ your work.

Copyright does not cover ideas, so they can only be copyrighted once they have become tangible or fixed.

You can copyright a song, design, book, or movie, but you can’t copyright words or slogans. For example, anyone can write a book titled Misery, but the contents have to differ from Stephen King’s novel.

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How to Copyright a Name for a Business: Can You Copyright a Name?

You can’t copyright a company name as it doesn’t cover single names or phrases. The reason is that the law doesn’t consider names, phrases, and slogans substantial or unique enough to deserve copyright protection. Protection for business names comes in the form of a trademark. 

Copyright is great for protecting unique and distinctive elements of your business, such as designs, technical drawings, and even your logo. It helps creators ensure no one else can exploit their work for financial gain.

You can trademark a business name and make sure no one else can use your name in vain. Or, at least, you get a legal framework to sue them for wrongdoing.

Trademark vs. Copyright

Check out the table below for a brief review of differences between a copyright and trademark.

CopyrightTrademark
What’s coveredAny original medium you’ve created. It can be a novel, music, software code, paper, etc.It can be a word, phrase, design, or a combination that distinguishes your product/service as unique.
What the benefits areIt gives you an exclusive right to distribute and reproduce the material. You can sue anyone who copies the work without your permission.It protects you from others registering the trademark and using it without your permission. 

Now, let’s take a closer look at what each type of intellectual property entails.

Copyright 

  • You can get a copyright for an original, tangible medium that you’ve created. 
  • As a copyright owner, you can transfer usage rights through licensing, assigning, etc. 

Trademark

  • A trademark is a distinguishable word, symbol, or design that identifies a company, goods, or services from others in the same industry and location. 
  • You can use a trademark to distinguish your business name and ensure that another brand cannot use the name. 
  • There are some restrictions on what can be trademarked. For example, a verb in common usage or a generic noun will likely not be allowed to be trademarked.
  • Your trademark identifies you to customers, so you must use it correctly.
  • If your trademark does fall into common usage, you may lose your trademark.
  • You have to ensure you keep a trademark in force, and there are fees involved. If you see someone infringing upon your trademark, you should contact a lawyer who can help with this kind of dispute. 
  • Trademark disputes can end up in court but rarely do. 
  • Trademarks are easily identifiable by the little ™ marker that appears beside trademarked items.

Copyright and Trademark Examples 

Check out the table below to see the examples of copyrights and trademarks:

Copyright ExamplesTrademark Examples
EssaysName
Blog postsWord
MoviesPhrase
LogoLogo
Architectural designsSymbol
Song lyricsCharacter
Different art piecesSound
MusicDesign
AppsColor and Color scheme
PoemsDomain name

Is There Any Overlap Between Copyright and Trademarks? 

As you can see in the above examples, some items overlap. For instance, you can both copyright and trademark a logo. A copyrighted logo protects you from unauthorized copying, while a trademarked logo prevents other companies from using it.

How Can I Get a Trademark for My Business Name?

You can obtain a trademark online by filing for a trademark on your government’s website. Trademarking your business name will likely require a fee that varies from country to country.

When you trademark your business name, you should understand that your business name is only trademarked in the country you applied in, except in certain circumstances, which we will discuss in this article.

Trademarking in the U.S.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issues U.S. trademarks. You can conduct a trademark database search on the website to see if your business name is available for trademarking.

If it’s available, you will need to fill out an application and pay between $250 and $350, but it can get more expensive, depending on different factors such as classes (and the number of them) and lawyer involvement.

The process can sometimes take up to 18 months, so you need to be prepared to wait this amount of time.

Trademarking in the U.K.

If you want to trademark your business name in the U.K., you will need to go through the U.K. government. You can find the trademark search page and the application page on the U.K. government website.

You need to fill out an application and pay fees to get a trademark in the U.K. The process can take around three months, and the trademark lasts for ten years.

Trademarks in Europe

If you want to file for a trademark in all countries that are a part of the European Union, you can apply through EUIPO. The process requires you to have a trademark in one country already and then to fill out a further application through the website to receive a trademark across all member nations.

It’s a good choice if you plan on trading across Europe, but it is not always necessary. The process costs around €850. Once accepted, your trademark will last ten years before you renew it.

Note: The €850 fee is for the first class trademark only. The second class costs €50, while all the third and more cost €150.

The Madrid Protocol

If you want your trademark to extend even further, you can apply for one in countries that are part of the Madrid Protocol.

This system allows your trademark to be valid in 130 countries and is available to anyone with a personal or business connection to one of the states. This means you must be a citizen or resident or have an industrial or commercial establishment in one of the member states.

Key Takeaways

While you can get a copyright for an original work, a business name doesn’t fall under that definition. To protect your name and brand, taking out a trademark is a good idea, but you should take the time to consider whether you need one. Before applying for a trademark, consider seeking legal advice to get the best idea of what you need for your trademark.

Your business name takes a lot of work, and wanting to protect it is understandable. If you want to set up a company but need help to come up with a catchy, distinguishable, and memorable name, use our AI-powered business name generator to get 1,000+ name ideas instantly.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

While you can’t copyright your business name, registering a trademark protects you from companies that want to use the same or a similar name to yours. With a trademark, you gain an exclusive right to use the name in your location and niche.

You can’t copyright a brand name, but you can trademark it. Filing a trademark for your business with the USPTO in the U.S. can cost between $250 and $350, plus any legal fees if you decide to hire a trademark attorney.

No. Firstly, you can’t copyright a business name; you can take out a trademark. Registering a trademark comes with a minimum fee of $250 in the U.S., and you can’t receive one for free.

Getting a copyright is not hard and doesn’t involve a complicated process. You need to:
  1. Check if your work is eligible for copyright protection,
  2. File a registration application (the fee ranges from $35 to $55),
  3. File a copy of the material you wish to copyright.
Note that you can’t copyright a business name.

The cheapest way to receive a copyright is to visit the USPTO website (or another government’s website, depending on where you want to take out the copyright) and apply yourself. However, the process can be tricky if you’re unfamiliar with it, and you should consider hiring a professional attorney.

You can protect your logo from misuse and unauthorized copying if it is unique and original. If you want your logo to be recognizable within other facilities (e.g., a franchise), having a copyright helps you license the use of your logo while you still possess all the rights to it.