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Writing - Copyrights and Trademarks Protect You
By Marilyn Schwader

When most people consider writing a book, they don't think about Trademarks. However, I highly recommend that you leverage your writing for multiple purposes, and that's why registering a Trademark for your concept is a good idea. If you use your writing as the basis for workshops and other products, it's in your best interests to protect your concepts with a Trademark.

To paraphrase the definition of a Trademark given at the official web site www.uspto.gov, a Trademark is a symbol, a word, a phrase, or a design, (or any combination), used to identify and distinguish the unique source of goods. Note that a Service Mark has the same definition as a Trademark, except as related to services instead of products.

You are not required to register a Mark. Instead, you can establish your rights to the Mark with a record of legitimate use of it. However, there are several advantages to owning a Mark that is federally registered. The most notable is your premier position if anyone else should attempt to use your Mark after your official registration date.

Regardless of whether you've made an application to the USPTO for a federally registered Mark, you may use the TM and SM symbols any time you claim Mark rights. However, the federal symbol for registration (encircled "R"), may only be used after the USPTO has received your application, processed it, and officially registered your Mark. One more thing to note: the federal registration symbol can only be used in connection with the goods or services that are specifically listed in the federal documents.

Of course, there is a difference among the purposes of Trademarks, copyrights, and patents. Patents protect a inventions. Copyrights protect original literary or artistic work.

Your work is copyright protected under common law when you create it. And by printing the work with the copyright notification included, you have signified your claim to the work. However, to have it officially recorded, you will want to register it with the Copyright Office. Keep in mind that the government does not enforce the copyright. If someone were to infringe, it would be up to you to protect your rights through a civil suit.

Contact the Copyright Office to get the forms. Call 202- 707-3000 and request copyright package 109, or go to the web site, www.loc.gov/copyright and fill out form TX. To register your copyright of a book, take these steps: 1) Print the copyright notice on the copyright page (title page). You may use the word copyright, but "C" in a circle says the same thing and is necessary for international protection. Also, add "All rights reserved." The notice must appear in all copies of the book to protect you. The copyright should be in the name of the owner. 2) Publish the book. 3) Register your claim with the Copyright Office within three months of the book being published.

New copyright duration is for the author's life, plus fifty years. Since your ownership is part of your estate, mention it in your will. Everything is protected by the copyright, (text, graphics, etc.), except titles. Titles can't be copyrighted. However, does the title fit the definition of a Trademark? If so, you can claim it that way. An example: "Chicken Soup for the Soul" is Trademarked because it can't be copyrighted. No one actually would use that title for their own creation, but if it weren't Trademarked, anyone could legally profit from using the phrase to market other products.

Cover all your bases and use the means available to protect your creation. By registering your copyright and your rights in a Mark, the safeguards are prepared if someone tried to use your work as their own.

As a publisher of the "A Guide To Getting It" book series, Marilyn J. Schwader has made a study of topics related to writing. She is contributing author of articles for Acorn Writing News your premier resource on-line for information on writing. Find the archive of articles at: http://www.acornwriting.com/

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