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Ask Robert McEwen, Esq. Your Own Question
Robert McEwen, Esq.
Robert McEwen, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 15573
Experience:  Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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How to copyright a new word?

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How to copyright a new word?

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What's the nature of this word? Are you planning on using it as part of a business? A business name or product name? Or as a slogan?

Customer :

The word is ideal for naming a business that deals with rehabilitation, fitness, sports training, and personal training. It's both marketing and medical. It is easily understood and as yet never has been used as far as I know. It can be a slogan as well as a business name.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Are you going to be using the name as part of your business, or are you asking whether you can do something to protect it should someone else wish to use that name?

Customer :

Both. Certainly I wish to protect the word from being used by others without paying a royalty of some kind

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Thank you. First of all, you cannot "copyright" a word.

Words and short phrases are specifically not copyrightable (at least in US law). Only "works" can be copyrighted, which are creative expressions of ideas. A logo design, for instance, can be copyrighted, or whole paragraphs or papers, photographs, videos, audio recordings, etc... But individual words and short phrases are not able to be copyrighted.

Words on the other hand CAN be trademarked. But the trademark laws are more restrictive than copyright.

One need only come up with a work to copyright, but one has to actually use (or intend to use within a year) a word for trademark.

Otherwise, you would have companies that would have trademarked ever word and possible word, to license them out.

So you can't just "squat" on a word hoping that someone would use it in the future. You actually have to intend to AND actually use the word in commerce.

If you don't use the word in commerce, someone can come by at a later point, challenge the trademark filing, and get full ownership of that word, leaving you out in the cold.

Trademarks are also fairly expensive. It's at least $500 (the filing fee) plus any fees that you pay for the preparation of the documents, any fees incurred as a result of challenges, etc...

Assuming that you're actually going to be using this word in commerce, I would suggest going to this site to prepare your documents and get them filed:

That's assuming that you've already done your due diligence and made sure no one else is using this word as a trademark.

Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know.

Customer :

What a exactly is the definition of "use the word in commerce". Would using the word as the name of a small local business, we are not cards, hang a sign in to see people at a given location constitute "use the word in commerce" . Or would you have to incorporate a small company to meet the definition?

RobertMcEwenEsq :

You do not need to be incorporated, but should at least have a "dba" (doing business as designation) filed with your local clerk.

Use in commerce means that you use it for your business, and the use is actual. That is, it's not merely incidental, but actual use.

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