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Dear Media, Copyright and Trademark are NOT the Same Thing

OK, it’s time to rant briefly about a pet peeve of mine: the tendency on the part of some folks in the media to conflate “copyright” and “trademark,” two related, but distinct terms from the world of Intellectual Property law.

The reasons this comes to mind today is because in perusing copyright-related headlines this morning, I ran across multiple headlines stating “Jay-Z And Beyonce Lose Copyright Battle Over Daughter’s Name” or some variation thereof.

Naturally, Jay-Z and Beyonce were not trying to “copyright” their daughter’s name, because that can’t be done, and both of them (not to mention their likely legions of legal counsel) are IP-savvy enough to understand that.

Registering a trademark on the phrase that also happens to be her name, on the other hand, could have been done, had that particular mark not already been registered by a wedding and event planner in connection with her business.

If you read the wikipedia pages I’ve linked to the in the first paragraph of this post, you’ll see that the differences between copyright and trademark are substantial, fundamental, and really pretty easy to distinguish. These facts make it all the more baffling to me that many media outlets routinely confuse the two – and probably confuse a lot of their readers in the process.

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