You put a lot of work into creating your website, so it certainly makes sense that you’d want to protect it from content thieves and duplicators. That urge might have driven you to wonder, “how do I copyright my website?” And what about all of the individual elements on the site? It would definitely make sense to know how to copyright a logo or a blog post.
If you’ve ever pondered that question, this post is for you. In it, we’ll discuss two intellectual property terms – copyright and trademark. Then, we’ll cover how you can actually apply those terms to your website (and which part of your site each term applies to), including step-by-step guides on how to submit a copyright claim or trademark in the USA.
The differences between trademarks and copyrights
People often use copyright and trademark interchangeably. But while both deal with intellectual property, the two terms apply to different things:
Copyright (for example, how to copyright a logo)
If you want to protect an entire blog post or a photo that you took (AKA a creative work), you use copyright:
- All original content created on your website is secured by copyright law.
- This includes creative works such as photographs, designs, written articles, and more.
- Once the creative work becomes tangible (ie. publication), copyright law goes into effect.
- While your original work is copyrighted by default, it’s easier to get compensation and protect your content with a registered copyright.
- There is something called the “Fair Use” principle, which means that some, or all, of your copyrighted work, may sometimes be available to the public.
If you want to protect the name of your website or your logo, you use a trademark.
- Registered trademarks can never be used without permission. Therefore, you protect the most valuable parts of your brand with trademarks.
- Trademarks include any items that differentiate the goods or services sold by your company.
- For instance, trademarks cover symbols, colors, jingles, word marks, company names, and more.
- Personal names cannot be trademarked unless widely recognized and unique, like Cabela’s or Ford.
Why should I copyright my website?
Copyrights and trademarks help after you’ve generated a following and created a business with value. This way, no one tries to make a duplicate entity with your name and logo–or something that looks or sounds similar.
It’s not an absolute necessity for all sites, and plenty of bloggers don’t bother with it. But if you’re serious about your blog as a business, registering the proper copyrights and trademarks can offer you added protection against copycats.
How do I copyright my website and get my trademarks?
In the United States, creative works are protected by copyright law by default. Yes, you’re still technically protected even if you don’t proactively register the copyright.
This means that whenever you create something unique, like a blog post, it’s automatically owned by you. However, this doesn’t exactly mean you have any legal leverage if someone decides to steal your articles or logo.
In fact, often all you can do without a registered copyright is send a cease and desist letter. But if you learn how to copyright a logo, and all of the other elements on your site, it’s much easier for you to collect compensation.
In short, copyrights are best used for keeping your blog and articles protected. The same goes for photographs. When it comes to restricting other people from using your company name and logo, that’s where trademarks come into play for further defense.
How to register a copyright
To register for a copyright, go to the Copyright Registration Portal. Here, you pay a small fee (from $35 to $55 at the time of this article) and submit the articles and other content you want to be protected. Many bloggers complete this process once or twice a year, since you can submit large batches of articles and other property with each submission.
It’s nice because the website has different types of content categorized for you to learn more about each one. As you can see, blogs and websites are placed under the “Other Digital Content” area.
To sign up, click on the button that says “Log into the Electronic Copyright Registration Office.”
Click on the button for new users.
After that, walk through the process of submitting the content you want to protect under copyright law. As mentioned, you might want to consider submitting everything in one batch, such as your website, all current photos, articles, videos, artwork, and products.
After I copyright my website, how do I get trademarks?
Now, it’s time to figure out how to copyright a logo and site name.
Start by going to the United States Patent and Trademark Office website. On the Trademarks page, you’ll see several buttons for learning about trademarks, applying, and searching for them.
One tool to consider is the Search Trademark Database button. You can search the Trademark Electronic Search System for certain words that show up in your company name or logo. Combined with the design search, this gives you a good tool before deciding on applying. For instance, you may end up changing your new blog’s name after you realize it’s already taken.
To apply, you go back to the main page and click on the Apply Online button.
Three forms are available depending on what you’re applying for. If you’re at all confused about which form to choose and how to fill it out, we recommend that you speak to a lawyer on how to copyright a logo and get more professional information on protecting your site.
Is your site protected? Do you know how to how to copyright a logo and other website elements?
If you’ve ever asked the question, “Do I need to copyright my website,” the answer is this: If you’re planning on making money from your site, trademarks and copyrights offer more protection. If it’s only a hobby or journal, there’s not really any point.
So, make sure you thoroughly read through this guide to make sure you know how to copyright a logo, your website, your blog name, and potentially smaller parts like the posts and images. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to protect any designs or original products you’re selling.
Once again, your best bet is to take this advice and use it while speaking with a lawyer. If you have any basic questions about copyrighting or trademarking parts of your website, let us know in the comments below.