Can you copyright brand names?
There is a common misconception that there is a close connection between the law of copyright, brand protection and company names. In fact, under UK intellectual property law, these are three, very different, concepts. So the question arises, how to copyright brand names.
Copyright attaches to artistic and literary works, such as paintings, sculpture, musical compositions and novels but to speak of copyright in a brand or name is to overlook the fact that brands and names need separate protection by means of trademark registration.
Copyright in logos and designs is automatic in the UK and does not require any process of registration for the creator to assert legal ownership of copyright. However, copyright works such as designs and logos should also, without fail, also be protected by trademark registration. It is not enough just to rely on copyright and, even if you own the copyright, brand theft can easily occur if someone else decides to register your design or logo as a trademark before you get the chance to do so.
Unlike copyright, brand names must be protected by means of trademark registration. Businesses that own a trade mark registration will have the exclusive, renewable right to use the name within the territory for the chosen goods or services for 10 years. They would also have the right to prevent other parties from using an identical or similar name for the same goods or services.
Brand names and trade names are usually not usually artistic works. If there exists any copyright in brand names, it would most likely only relate to the design of a logo or a particular visual get-up of the brand concept.
As distinct from design copyright, brand names should always be registered as trademarks.
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