If you are a t-shirt designer, your ability to stand out from your competition is your greatest strength. Unfortunately, standing out does more than appeal to customers; it helps attract copycats who may want to ride on your creations to market their products, and that’s where copyrights and trademarks come into play.
Copyright and trademark rights are part of intellectual property rights, which gives creators exclusive rights to their creations. This article delves into the basics of copyrights and trademarks for t-shirt designs, so you may want to keep reading if you are a t-shirt designer.
Copyrights for T-Shirt Designs
Copyright refers to the author’s exclusive right to their creative work, such as art, picture, drawing, music, video, literal work, and design sketches. Copyright protections apply by default to the creator of the original work. However, you want to register to make proving ownership much easier in case of infringement.
In relation to t-shirt designs, copyrights are used to protect the sketches used in the design. It can also apply to protect some aspects of your branding. For example, if you include artistic imagery in your designs, the images will be subject to copyright protection.
Trademark Protections for T-Shirt Design
Trademark protections apply to brand identifiers and cover logos, brand names, slogans, and other identifiers. Trademark protections can apply by default on a first-to-use basis.
However, the level of protection may not be sufficient, so the best approach is to register your identifiers with the relevant authority to get exclusive rights to them. With exclusive rights comes the right to use the ® sign in your branding, which helps give a positive brand image and the right to sue others for infringement of your rights.
What You Get For Securing Rights to Your Design
The best thing that comes out of registering your copyright and trademarks is the ease of enforcing your rights. Enforcing your rights includes suing for infringement and stopping others from using your creations. You can also recover compensation if you can prove damages resulting from the infringement.
Registering your rights also helps safeguard your brand identity. With copyright protections lasting a lifetime and 70 years after the author’s death and trademark rights for 10-year renewable terms, you can enjoy more than a lifetime of a unique brand identity. You only need to match it with quality products and customer experiences.
The Cost of Securing Your Rights
The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) is the constitutionally mandated agency that handles IP registration in Canada. So all registrations are made through the agency by visiting their office in person, via mail, or online.
As mentioned earlier, copyright protection applies by default, but registration makes enforcing your rights much easier. Also, you only need to register your rights once for a $50 registration fee when doing online registration and $65 if you choose the mail or the in-person option.
Registering your trademarks can be relatively expensive because of the steps involved and the complexity of the process, which starts with a trademark search. However, all the costs involved are worth it if you consider the benefits that come with it.
The trademark search process starts with going through the Canadian trademark database, followed by an online and offline search, and, finally, an international database search. If your trademark is available, you file for registration and pay applicable registration fees.
You should expect to pay between $3000 and $5000, inclusive of official fees and professional fees, but you will also have to pay renewal fees after every ten years.
Copyright and trademark protections are limited to geographical boundaries. So, registering your rights in Canada only offers protection within Canada.
If your market extends beyond Canada, you should consider extending your protection by registering your rights with a global IP agency such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
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