What is proper copyright and trademark notice?

Attorney Michael Lasky discusses what is proper copyright and trademark notice.

Contact Michael Lasky

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (404) 441-1750 or (952) 253-4106


Hi, my name is Michael Lasky and I’m here to tell you about how to put the proper notice on your copyright or trademark work. First of all, you should realize that both copyrights and trademarks are registerable and even though someone might say, it’s optional, if you ever want to enforce any of those rights it is really important that you register. In copyright, if you don’t register you cannot get certain kinds of damages and in fact, it’s really hard to enforce. In trademark, you will get national rights if you register. So let’s assume that you’re going to register, either way you have to know what the right notice should be.

So proper notice for copyright is the following: The C within the circle or the word copyright but for international copyright purposes, which are free so you should use the C in the circle, then the owner’s name, and the year of first publication. Let’s take an example, here are several notices for Coca-Cola, circle C, Coca-Cola, 2013 assuming the copyrighted work let’s say a photograph or some text or something like that, went out in 2013. Could they use the name Coke? Yes, as long as people would know that it was the same company anything that would lead you to the right owner would be sufficient.

Can they put the date 2014 if the work was first published in 1898? Yes, but if you want the copyright notice to cover the full length of the first copyright and every copyright in between you’re going to have to put in the first date and the last date. And a lot of companies don’t want to do that ’cause they don’t want to show that their work is from 1898. If you only put the copyright notice from the date that you have the current work but it’s derived from something earlier then it doesn’t cover the earlier work. So it’s a good idea and you will see this a lot of times in books, the copyright date has multiple years because there were multiple versions. Okay, that’s copyright notice. Really simple, when should I use it? Always. Do I have to register to use it? No. Is it mandatory? Let’s say kind of. Just do it, it’s worth it.

Proper trademark notice. There really are two kinds of trademark notice the one is the TM and the other is the circle R. They are completely different and they are not interchangeable. T M is not a registered trademark you can use it on anything you want it simple says I am claiming this word to be my trademark, whether it is or not it has no legal significance it is simply a reminder to other people that you think it’s a trademark, something that’s really important.

So take a look at this Coca-Cola situation, Coca-Cola T M, well, of courses, it’s a registered trademark so you wouldn’t do that but you might have an unregistered that would be the thing to do. Then Coca-Cola circle R or you can have Coca-Cola register trademark or a contraction that will also work. One word of warning, some countries do not allow the use of the circle R if it’s not registered in their country so you’d have to have that checked out. Most countries do not have a requirement for the circle R at all but we do, so that’s proper notice.

So that’s how you do it. If you have questions, give me a call. Thanks a lot.