Should I Trademark or Copyright my Show’s Name or Concept for Protection?


What are the Trademark and copyright?

If you are a business owner and you are confused about the concept of copyright and trademark then you have landed up at the right place. Should I trademark or copyright my shoes name or concept for protection is a valid question and people generally struggle thinking about the same! It is difficult to catch customers’ attention these days and it is necessary to decide whether a company should adopt copyright or a trademark.

Trademark is a symbol, design, phrase, word, logo, sound, colour, and combination of all of this. Trademark is used to buy and sell goods and services and indicates that the product belongs to a particular brand/identity that has a distinctive feature. That trademark is particularly used by that product only, and no other product. In case if it is used by some other company then it will be considered as an infringement and the trademark holder can claim damages for the same.

Copyright is provided for literature, paintings, books, poetry, recordings, sculptures or screenplays. It gives the right to the creator so that no other person can copy such work to gain profit. Copyright cannot be provided on ideas, discoveries, principles, a list of ingredients and common property. Works that are not in a tangible form cannot be copyrighted.

As per law, movies, TV shows and plays do not get trademarks. Only the most detailed elements, personalities, fictional settings, and similar elements can be safeguarded. These are not so much concept items as they are actual implementations. All of these are copyright protected. Once you’ve aired the show, it will happen automatically. Also, if you’re willing to protect the concept/idea of a particular show before it is brought on screen then you just need to make sure that you advertise it less. Getting protection under IPR could be very difficult.

To understand the difference trademark protection is given to the identity of the company that is the brand name whereas copyright protection is given to literature and artistic works. The purpose of a trademark is to distinguish your product from the product of the other person whereas the objective of a copyright is to make sure that no one owns profit from your creative and artistic idea.

With the help of a trademark, you can prohibit other companies to use the same brand design to sell goods and services. This is because there are people who are wishfully involved in malpractices and steel branded logos to sell fake products. Trademark gives exclusivity and copyright gives the owner the protection for his work. Trademark registration is valid for 10 years and copyright is valid for life. R is used as a trademark symbol and a trademark must get registered. On the other hand, for copyright C is the symbol and it is not required to register a copyright.

Should I trademark or copyright my show’s name or concept for protection?

As said earlier copyright does not protect the concept, system, method of doing something or even ideas. These ideas can be converted into drawings, symbols or writings to claim copyright but this does not entitle that copyright will be for the idea rather it would be further written work called drawing. Copyright is available only for tangible material whereas ideas are intangible and can be translated.

For example, there can be two people with the same idea and intention to publish a book on a similar theme and a similar storyline. Therefore, idea or concept cannot be provided copyright protection. The tussle between idea/expression under copyright law is a burning topic. The basic reason to give protection to expressions and not to concepts or ideas is that it helps in protecting the free flow of ideas. This will bring in more creativity and innovation.

We have a case law to understand the difference between idea and expression. In the case of RG Anand V Delux Films, the plaintiff authored Hum Hindustani and in the year 1954, the defendant had communicated the plaintive asking for his consent, expressing interest to make a movie based on the play. The plaintiff did not respond and the defendant came up with the movie. After watching the movie, the plaintiff found the storyline the same as that of the play.

The plaintiff moved to the district court and High Court asking for a permanent injunction and damages, but both of them ruled against the plaintive. The Supreme Court held that there was no infringement because the expression was different. Initially, it was a play and later on, it was a movie, the idea was never copyrighted and hence the plaintiff cannot claim permanent injunction or damages.

There is a very huge difference between trademark and copyright, though the aim is to protect the work and identity of material. But what is suitable for your business depends upon the nature of business. In here, show cannot be protected under both the laws and also the idea or concept cannot be given protection. Once it is aired it automatically get identity through the name.