Does Copyright Protect Names?  

 


Shireen Smith 

 

 

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Introduction

For names and slogans, you need to turn to trademark law for guidance. While for other works, such as those outlined at the start of this piece as examples of copyright works, generally, all you need to do to own your work is to record it in some way

Show Notes

For names and slogans, you need to turn to trademark law for guidance. While for other works, such as those outlined at the start of this piece as examples of copyright works, generally, all you need to do to own your work is to record it in some way

Copyright is a wide-ranging subject, and relevant to many creative and non-creative industries. 

Copyright protects original expression, but not ideas themselves.  So, if someone were to suggest an idea to you to execute, such as an unusual looking picture of a bird, or gave you an idea for a plot, you as the creator would own copyright in the picture or plot you produce,and the person who gave you the idea will have no rights to any share of it.


People wonder whether copyright prevents them from using particular words for their product or business.  Even newspapers and popular online publications make the basic mistake sometimes of reporting names as being copyrightable. In fact, names are not protected by the law of copyright.  It is trademarks that protect names.

Some famous examples of slogans which are also protected by trademarks are Nike’s Just Do It, and L’Oreal’s Because you’re worth it.

What does this mean for you?  Well, for names and slogans you need to turn to trademark law for guidance. While for other works, such as those outlined at the start of this piece as examples of copyright works, generally, all you need to do to own your work is to record it in some way (for example by writing it down, taking a photograph, or getting it on tape). 

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