Copyright relates to the right to publish, copy, or communicate materials such as artwork, written work or music. Copyright is different to the ownership of a physical item of property. For instance, if you purchase an artwork you own the artwork (like purchasing a car). You cannot however make copies of it. The person who owns the copyright in the artwork doesn’t necessarily have the right to own the original painting, but they have the right to make copies of it and distribute those copies. Copyright doesn’t have to be registered, and it doesn’t need any warnings or notice. If someone copies your work they have violated copyright even if you didn’t warn them, even if you didn’t register it, even if there was no © on it anywhere.

 

 

Trademarks can be registered, but unlike copyright there is generally no physical item to own. Like copyright, trademarks relate to the right to reproduction of said trademark. A trademark is usually held over something like a logo. This is different to registering a business name, which the government requires you to do, but does not give you any particular enforceable rights to that name. A person can protect their registered trademark under legislation in Australia by injunction or damages. If your trademark is unregistered, for instance you have registered a business name but haven’t registered a trademark, then you have some rights to sue but this is reduced to suing for things like lost business earnings. You may not be able to get an injunction to stop them from using the similar or identical name.

Patents have to be registered, and they exist over an invention. They cannot exist over an idea or an image. A patent is generally obtained to stop someone else from making, using or selling your invention for a certain period of time, or to sell that exclusive right.

These terms are used interchangeably but actually they are very different. This newsletter would be subject to copyright, if someone copied an article and published it then this firm would have the right to stop them. (Whether the cost of enforcing this right is too great for the injury caused is a separate issue).

There are no enforceable trademarks in this newsletter however, so if someone was passing themselves off as Coode & Corry Solicitors we would be restricted to suing them for lost business earnings (though, in fact, it is a bad example because it would be difficult to do that because of the regulations surrounding registered a law firm in NSW). There is nothing about this newsletter that we could patent.