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Hugh, Composer, Producer and Performer
Category: Entertainment
Satisfied Customers: 59
Experience:  20 years experience in performing, studio sessions, producing, composing, entertainment management.
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I have a great idea for a television show, how can i protect

Resolved Question:

I have a great idea for a television show, how can i protect myself.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Entertainment
Expert:  Hugh replied 6 years ago.
Unfortunately, you cannot protect ideas. Obviously, similar - or in many cases - the same ideas are used and re-packaged over and over again in television and in motion pictures. However, when those ideas are transformed into a dramatic work (a movie or television script, motion picture, video etc.), they can then be protected under copyright law. This holds true for any creative work. A song, a book, a magazine article or in your case, a television show.

If you develop your idea into a script, it is then possible for you to register for a copyright, through the US Copyright Office in Washington DC.

What is the definition of a script? Manuscript, Video, Audio CD (what the copyright office still terms "Phonorecords").

You can also register a trademark for the name of your show and any logo that is associated with it with the US Patent and Trademark Office (

1) Copyright. You can register online (electronic filing). I believe the fee is $35. There is also now an online fill-in form called a CO form that takes place of a PA form and is quicker, however more expensive ($50). Turnaround time is typically 12-18 months, however a CO register can be as short as 8 months. Conventional way of filing Form PA (Performing Arts) is still valid, and costs $65. Here is their website

2) Trademark. As I mentioned previously, this is done through the US Patent and Trademark Office. You are required to complete a search. More about this on their website at This is a tricky area and you will need to consult with
an experienced trademark attorney to see if this is a viable option for you.

Those are the two ways that are available to you for protection.

Thank you for your question.

Edited by Hugh on 10/26/2009 at 1:45 AM EST
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