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When it comes to trademark and copyright for small businesses, what you don’t know about the law can hurt you and your company.  

Trademark V. Copyright

A trademark is any word, slogan, symbol, design or combination of these which does two things:  

  1. Identifies the source of goods or services in the marketplace
  2. Distinguishes those goods or services from others  

Copyright is a form of legal protection granted by law for original works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible medium of expression.  

Obtaining a copyright registration is not required for copyright protection to exist. Copyright protects literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works including writings, sculptures, artwork, photographs, paintings, screenplays, poetry, songs, and movies.

Copyright & Trademark Application

Most business owners and entrepreneurs do not have the time or the knowledge necessary to file a successful trademark or copyright application. A copyright application to register a single work currently takes 6-8 months to process.

Copyright for small businesses

A trademark application takes about 12-18 months to process.

With everything else you have to do in your business, do you have the time it takes to monitor and respond to requests for information regarding your pending trademark or copyright application?     

Also, there are minimum legal requirements that must be met for trademark and copyright for small businesses registration. An attorney experienced in trademark and copyright law can tell you if the trademark or creative work you want to register meets the minimum legal requirements for registration and can explain if any existing marks will prevent your trademark application from being successful before you waste your time and money filing an application.

You should expect to pay anywhere from $1,500-$2,500 (plus the application fees: TEAS Plus-$225, TEAS reduced Fee-$275 or TEAS Regular-$400) to hire an attorney to file a federal trademark application on your behalf.

Attorneys for Copyright

You should be able to retain an attorney to file your copyright application for around $500.  The fees for filing a copyright application electronically, are either $35 or $55 depending on the number of works being registered and whether the applicant is an individual or a business.  The fee for filing a copyright application via U.S. Mail is $85.

Hiring an attorney experienced in trademark and copyright for small businesses will help you avoid wasting time and money and greatly increases the chances that your applications will be successful.


About the Writer: Michele G. Moss, Esquire, of Johnson & Moss, has been in practice for over 14 years, with experience in both civil trial and litigation in Florida and federal courts. Her background includes intellectual property, products liability, and much more. You can contact her through her law firm website:


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