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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 Angelo Woodie, have a nice day.
- Bo Fosher, Staff Member
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 Coleen your participation is very much appreciated
- Bo Fosher
About the author
I've studied solid mechanics at Barclay College in Haviland and I am an expert in gerontology. I usually feel relaxed. My previous job was electrical technician I held this position for 4 years, I love talking about cue sports and mountain climbing. Huge fan of Jason Clarke I practice disability sport and collect crater critters.
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