Can i copyright a word or phrase [Definitive Guide]

Last updated : Aug 2, 2022
Written by : Burton Marchand
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Can i copyright a word or phrase

Can you copyright catch phrases?

The answer is yes – a catchphrase can be trademarked, but only for the protection of its use in connection with a particular product or services. The primary role of a trademark is to identify the source of a product or service.

Can a phrase be trademarked or copyrighted?

Only a phrase that is used for a commercial purpose may be trademarked. You can't trademark a phrase just because you like it and don't want anyone else to use it. You must be using the phrase or intending to use the phrase in connection with the sale of goods or services.

Do you have to copyright a phrase?

A phrase should be trademarked, not copyrighted. Registering a trademark with the USPTO is simple and not very time-consuming but can take time to approve. If you hope to enforce your ownership over a specific trademark, you'll want to get it registered before it's too late.

What is it called when you copyright a phrase?

Trademarking a phrase is a legal process with strict deadlines. You can register a trademark in more than one state with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

How do you legally own a phrase?

  1. Choose an Original and Distinct Phrase.
  2. Search the USPTO Database for Your Phrase.
  3. Select the Appropriate Filing-Basis for the Trademark Application.
  4. Select the Appropriate Class of Goods/Services and Description of the Goods/Services.
  5. Pay the Appropriate Gov.

Can you trademark a phrase on a T-shirt?

Yes, you can trademark a t-shirt. You can trademark a name, logo, or slogan that appears on your t-shirts. You may register a trademark for any materials that identify and promote your particular goods and services. This information was provided by our founding attorney, Xavier Morales, Esq.

Can I trademark a common phrase?

Common words and phrases can be trademarked if the person or company seeking the trademark can demonstrate that the phrase has acquired a distinctive secondary meaning apart from its original meaning. That secondary meaning must be one that identifies the phrase with a particular good or service.

Can I trademark a phrase already used?

Trademarked phrases are only protected against the use of others in the same business class. The phrase must identify the commercial organization as the source of goods or services for the trademark. You cannot apply to trademark a phrase if the same phrase is already registered or has a pending application.

Should I trademark a phrase?

Is it Worth it to Trademark a Phrase? If you are using a catch phrase, tag line, or sales line with your goods or services, then yes, it is almost always worth it to trademark that phrase if it is available.

What can you not copyright?

  • Information that is commonly known.
  • Lists of ingredients, such as formulas and recipes.
  • An idea for a novel, book, or movie.
  • Business, organization, or group names.
  • Domain names.
  • An individual's pseudonym, like a pen or stage name.
  • Slogans, catch phrases, and mottoes.

How much does it cost to copyright a phrase?

If you have ever asked yourself how much does it cost to trademark a phrase, according to the current fee schedule on the USPTO, trademark registration fees cost $275 per mark per class. If you need an attorney's assistance, the cost averages around $1,000 to $2,000.

How do I trademark a word for free?

You can not register a trademark for free. However, you can establish something known as a "common law trademark" for free, simply by opening for business. The benefit of relying on common law trademark rights is that it's free, and you don't need to do any specific work filling out forms, etc.

How do you protect a slogan?

If you decide you want to protect your slogan or catchphrase as intellectual property, you will need to apply for a trademark. This application is submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It is completed either electronically or via a paper application.

What words Cannot be trademarked?

  • Proper names or likenesses without consent from the person.
  • Generic terms, phrases, or the like.
  • Government symbols or insignia.
  • Vulgar or disparaging words or phrases.
  • The likeness of a U.S. President, former or current.
  • Immoral, deceptive, or scandalous words or symbols.
  • Sounds or short motifs.

Can a single word be trademarked?

A trademark registration with the USPTO is a registered trademark and gets marked with the registered trademark (®) symbol. You don't have to register a word with the USPTO to get trademark status. A word is a trademark if that word identifies a brand, regardless of whether the word itself is registered.

How do you tell if a phrase is trademarked?

You can search all applied-for and registered trademarks free of charge by using the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)'s Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). If your mark includes a design element, you will have to search it by using a design code.

What's the difference between copyright and trademark?

Copyright protects original work, whereas a trademark protects items that distinguish or identify a particular business from another. Copyright is generated automatically upon the creation of original work, whereas a trademark is established through common use of a mark in the course of business.

Can you trademark something you didn't create?

Updated November 12, 2020: If you're wondering, "can you trademark something that already exists," the simple answer is "no." Generally speaking, if somebody has used a trademark before you, you can't register the trademark for yourself.

Can you patent a word?

While you can learn how to patent an idea here, unfortunately, it is not possible to patent a phrase. Instead, you can trademark a phrase by registering it with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

What are the three requirements for something to be copyrighted?

There are three basic requirements for copyright protection: that which is to be protected must be a work of authorship; it must be original; and it must be fixed in a tangible medium of expression.

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Can i copyright a word or phrase

Comment by Julian Caposole

all right hi and welcome back attorney Steve founder and we are talking in this video about can you copyright a phrase or a catchphrase so let's talk about this I saw something on the internet the other day and it was a quote that said today I'm gonna be as worthless as the G in lasagna and I laughed and I thought to myself can you actually copyright something like that so I went and looked it up and you know the the short answer is no that something that's really short like that a short catchy phrase is usually too short to be considered an original work of authorship something that would be subject to copyright now I say Never Say Never you know you could try there's probably some some out there in the big copyright world some people that did get some catch phrases copyrighted but I it's you know I want to talk to you also about you know some other examples of short phrases that you may have heard that maybe you can guess have they been copyrighted or not they work the phrase just do it by Nike that's everybody's heard it just do it is that copyrightable how about make America great again Donald Trump's slogan is that something that could be subject to a copyright and finally how about Taylor Swift's this sick beat this sick beat that's something that could be copyrighted well the answer is actually once again know that these phrases are just too short okay so however there is a way to protect these and it's through copyright law in fact I mean excuse me it's through trademark law and in fact these three marks just do it make America great and this sick beat are subject to trademark protections and by their owners so just to give you a show on this so I'm here on the USPTO website and you could type in here go to the search field and type in make America great again and there you can see now I think Trump's is down here somewhere but you could see all these other ones Magga news network make America not great again so people are seeking these types of trademarks now these are where you have slogans and short phrases you know that's when you're gonna be looking toward trademark protection so trademark protection usually costs a little bit more but that is one way to protect your creative phrases so if you have those creative phrases and you say I want to copyright that the good student is going to say wait a second you can't copyright that that's probably too short you're probably talking about getting a trademark all right so that's the lesson in this video I hope that's easy to understand and digest this is legal information only and not legal advice I hope it's been helpful if you liked it feel free to share it on your social media networks give me a thumbs up any comments questions any insights anything that you have on this topic and feel free to subscribe to our channel thanks a lot Attorney Steve we'll talk again have a great day

Thanks for your comment Julian Caposole, have a nice day.
- Burton Marchand, Staff Member

Comment by Patricia

hey welcome to today's video I'm Rick Chapel with dmca agent service calm yesterday we're talking about a copyright issue specifically how to copyright a phrase or slogan have some good news and I have some bad news so the good news let's start with well actually it's the bad news let's start with copyright what is copyright well people like it and you know get themselves twisted up trying to define it I think the easy way to remember to simply say it's a creative work of authorship and so let's use an example JK Rowling she writes another Harry Potter book okay well that's gonna be six or seven hundred pages it's her plot she's come up something you know specific to her storyline she's writing the actual sentences you know putting that together I think we can all agree that's a creative work now one of the questions that comes up in copyright is how much work do you need for it to be creative so can one word be considered a creative work well and some esoteric art circles probably but for the rest of us answer is no and so we have a rule in copyright law that says if the work is of insufficient size it cannot be copyrighted and while we're talking about a phrase or slogan that would mean X number of words and you're probably thinking okay well how many words does it have to be before you can copyright it and the answer is there's no specific amount instead they're gonna look at the content that you submit to see you know if it rises to the level where it's a creative work so let's use an example let's say the phrase just do it let's say JK Rowling includes that phrase in one of her novels and she files a copyright for it I realized she never would do this but let's just use it is the Copyright Office going to allow her to copyright that phrase the answer is no and the reason being well think of all the millions and millions of other novels out there more than a few are going to have a situation where two characters are talking to each other one gets mad at the other and says just do it it's probably going to be a parent talking to a child but they're gonna be all these examples out there now are we going to say that JK Rowling has the right to claim all those other novels or infringing because they're using that small phrase no it would be insane we would ultimately end up with almost no books and so with copyright we're looking for a much more substantial amount of content before we're going to give it that kind of protection now does that mean you're screwed no the solution with a phrase or slogan is not to file a copyright but to file a trademark and a trademark is simply some type of a mark such as a phrase or slogan that identified a good or service and so if we go back to just do it well just do it is a trademark of Nike and when you hear that phrase and associated with sports apparel well you know that it that's associated with Nike their shoes their clothes what have you and so it is an identifier in that sense you can also have service marks so trademarks are traditionally for companies or goods and then the service marks apply to service marks or services so if you think of like HR block who helps people with tax returns they provide a tax return service they would get a service mark under trademark law trademarks the service marks are the same that and all the rules apply to both but it's just important to make sure you understand the differences now now again trademarks and service marks applied short expressions if JK Rowling tried to trademark her new novel all 700 pages the trademark office would reject it and probably be laughing as they did so now there's an important distinction between copyright and trademark that you need to understand with a copyright once the work is completed copyright automatically applies so when JK round leaf in assha x' the final version of her novel it's there it's ready to go trademark applies she has a common law trademark now she needs to go ahead and register that copyright with Copyright Office because she's gonna gain more protection there and a lot more rights but she has it once she's finished the work once she's completed the novel that's not true with trademarks so let's say you're sitting around one you're trying to come up with slogan for your your business or your company or what have you and you eventually decided on one and you write it down and say okay this is my slogan this is my trademark well trademark that's not a trademark it's not it doesn't apply there you have to use it in public so you have to actually go out and use it in commerce as part of your advertising or sales or you need to sell product on it's something of that sort so there's that extra step and you can actually file something called an intent to use application with the trademark office and what that basically says is that exactly as the title suggests you intend to use it sometime soon and you have six months to get it into commerce now when you file it that date is important because if you then subsequently do use it in that six month period the Copyright Office will back date the first years to the time when they refer to the date that they received the intent to use application so basically with trademark a big big issue is who use it first so that's a way to kind of get some extra time but also get it back dated and protect yourself but it goes beyond the scope of this video but just keep that in mind so how to copyright a Fraser or slogan and generally it's pretty difficult that can be a few exceptions the only one that really comes to mind would be if you have a series in some situations the Copyright Office will allow for you to file copyright so for instance books you're often told book titles cannot be copyrighted generally speaking that's true however if you file a series of books in that situation they will often let you copyright the titles so for instance the dummies books you know dummies for Windows 10 dummies for greeting aliens you know don't use for this dummies for that okay well in that situation the Copyright Office will allow for a copyright title to be filed for those titles even then though you're asking for a legal fight you're asking for lawsuits to contest whether it should be allowed or not you know if you're gonna go that direction talk to a lawyer make sure you good plan in place and again a trademarks still probably the better option just because trademarks are in my opinion even stronger than copyrights and they can really carry you no significant damage claims if somebody is violating and infringing on your trademark but anyways there you go how to copyright a phrase or slogan if you have questions comments post them below be happy to answer otherwise have yourself given

Thanks Patricia your participation is very much appreciated
- Burton Marchand

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