When To Copyright Or Trademark

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To copyright or not to copyright? Or, perhaps, trademark? This is an area where, unfortunately, a lot of people – particularly online entrepreneurs – are leaving themselves unprotected and with lots of holes.

Trademark Vs Copyright

Trademarks are going to protect things that identify your business like your name, slogan, and/or logo. Copyrights are going to protect creative things in your business. Your blog, eBooks, premiums, worksheets, video courses, podcast episodes, videos, graphics, music, and songs, etc.

Having a Copyright Will Protect Your Creative Projects

You have to register your copyright to be able to file a lawsuit. The good news: it’s much easier than trademark registration. You’re going to want to head to: Copyright.gov. There’s a button that says Register a Copyright. It will take you through a form. To be honest, it’s a little bit confusing, but the copyright law is very forgiving if you make a mistake. Just do your best.

But how do you know exactly how detailed you’re supposed to get when filing? Like, should you register each and every episode of a podcast or YouTube video?

Think about what’s making you money and what you’re worried about someone copying and making money off of. Individual podcast episodes? YouTube videos? Probably not so much.

Let’s be real. There are always going to be things you believe are your intellectual property (i.e., brilliant idea). Then, some people come along and tweak your idea a bit. Rude! But listen, it’s legit tricky to protect those kinds of things.

Because, as I’m guessing you’ve heard, you can’t copyright an idea. For instance, if you have a method for doing something… you can’t stop someone from basically making the same method. However, what you can protect is the exact way you write out that method in a worksheet or the steps that you take people through in a video course.

And what happens to be one of the most commonly overlooked places when it comes to online copyrighting?


An Overlooked Place To Copyright Is Online Courses

This is a huge area people need to start thinking about because, sadly, online courses continue to be the victim of major replication. I’m talking 100% totally copied. And, for many of us, these courses our are bread and butter.

Personal anecdote time: Every single week we hear from people who say,

Chalene, this course that you offered, it’s a $2,000 dollar course, but I bought it when it was on sale for $200. It only gave me the first three lessons. Where is my refund?

What my team and I found out is there’s a bazillion of these fake sites searching for people who are searching for a particular course. They pirate them and, then, sell them at a massive discount! But, hello? There is no customer service and it’s never the complete course, anyway. Sometimes it’s a bootleg only containing a couple of moving parts, if you will. They continue to popup every single week, though. Ugh, it’s so frustrating. We’ve spent a small fortune trying to take them down.

Here is yet another example as to how copyright law is a little different than trademark law…

With trademarks, you do have a duty to shut down people who are too similar because that’s going to make confusion in the marketplace. If there are 50 of YOU, how do we know which one is the real you? With copyright, though, you can pick and choose who you go after. You don’t have a duty to go after everybody.

When You Have A Copyright You Can Pick Who To Go After

You can follow this unofficial rule of thumb: I’m not going to worry about the pirate sites that are a dime a dozen, but if it’s somebody making a million dollars off of the same course… then I’m going to worry about that one.

Now, if you’re curious as to:

  • What defending a trademark means
  • If just writing “copyright” next to text (without filing) means anything
  • How often you should perform a search to evaluate the marketplace

And so much more! Well then, you must check out one of my newest and hottest episodes (especially if you’re an entrepreneur) of Build Your Tribe, titled: Protect Your Online Business! What You Need to Know Now! This is mandatory listening for anyone with creative content online!


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