Important things to make note of

for all public relations practitioners


Copyright and trademark may not seem like important topics for the average person, however, for individuals working in the field of public relations it is very important to be aware of copyright and trademark laws. Briefly explained, copyright are laws that protect any original work such as a song, painting, or photo. Trademarks are identifiable icons such as logos, names, or even sounds. Trademark laws are put into practice to help protect companies' reputations.

Let's begin with Trademark...

An important term to remember is intellectual property. Intellectual property can be defines as anything that is original and creatively made by a person's mind. Keeping that in mind, don't try to use another company's trademark to create a profit for yourself. "For example, don't use another company's logo in an attempt to somehow profit off their reputation" (Dwilson). Because a trademark is a product of a person's creative and original mind, it is protected by trade mark laws.

The bigger the trademark the more protected it is. If another person's "original" creation, such as a business name, resembles another's with a large reputation then it may be protected under trademark law in order to protect that reputation. "A guy that uses the trade name 'Victor's Little Secret...' is likely to tarnish the famous Victoria's Secret mark." (Muller, This is called dilution by tarnishment. In other words, if a company has a trademark on something it's as though they are saying...

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Trademarks and Avoiding Consumer Confusion: Crash Course Intellectual Property #5

Next... copyright.

Copyright is a tricky subject, especially now with the worldwide web, internet, and invents like social media. But how can we know if a copyright law has been broken? First, it is important to have a clear understanding of what things can be protected under copyright laws, "Copyright law protects “original works of authorship,” and includes a wide variety of creative materials..." (Lasky, Edelman, & Keen). These materials could include books, magazines, songs, art, photography, videos, and television broadcasts.

It is also important to know what the rights of copyright entitle an individual to. For instance if the work is originally yours and you own the copyright to it then you can display it, reproduce it, create a derivative or it, and distribute copies of it. (Lasky, Edelman, & Keen). Similarly, if you have work that you do not own the copyright to, doing any of the actions previously stated may be considered infringements of the copyright laws. " DON'T: DUPLICATE COPYRIGHTED WORKS WITHOUT PERMISSION... DISTRIBUTE COPYRIGHTED WORKS WITHOUT PERMISSION" (Lasky, Edelman, & Keen). What you can do, however, is get the official authorization and permission methods to avoid legal repercussions.

In conclusion...

Trademark and copyright laws serve to protect the rights of individual's original work. Make sure to stay well informed on the laws regarding these topics and get the required authorization before using materials that you do not own the rights to in a way that is illegal and infringes on their rights.


Dwilson, S.D. (n.d.). What Laws Affect Public Relations.

Lasky, M., Edelman, S., & Keen, S. (n.d.). How to Copy "Right" and How Not to Copy "Wrong"