How do I go about getting copyrights and ownership of my quotes and for my brand name for my T-shirt line?

Asked on July 1, 2014 under Business Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Copyright comes into being when an original work is created--you don't have to register copyright, though should assert it when publishing the work, such as with the copyright symbol, year, and your name. You can register it if you want, for a little bit extra protection (or rather, to get extra damages/compensation, if anyone infringes); you can find out how to do this--it's very straightforward, and you can get the forms from the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) website.

As to getting a trademark: you really should hire an intellectual property lawyer to help you, because the first, and most critical, thing to do is to make sure that you have a trademark which can be registered and protected. It must be original (not in use by someone else)--this means you have to do a search nationwide to see if it is in use. It also must be sufficient distinctive and cannot be merely descriptive or generic--to use an example, you can register "Vortex" as the name of a car, since it's a distinctive name which does not describe a car, but you cannot register "Sports car" as a trademark for a car, since that is generic or descriptive.

As stated, you should get an attorney to help you with trademarks; but if you want to do it yourself, you can find instructions on the PTO website.


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