Civil Causes of Action - Trademark or Copyright Infringement Law and Legal Definition

Trademarks identify the goods of one manufacturer from the goods of others. Trademarks are important business assets because they allow companies to establish their products' reputation without having to worry that an inferior product will diminish their reputation or profit by deceiving the consumer. Trademarks include words, names, symbols and logos. The intent of trademark law is to prevent consumer confusion about the origin of a product.

The owner of a copyright has the right to exclude any other person from reproducing, preparing derivative works, distributing, performing, displaying, or using the work covered by copyright for a specific period of time. Copyrighted work can be a literary work, musical work, dramatic work, pantomime, choreographic work, pictorial work, graphic work, sculptural work, motion picture, audiovisual work, sound recording, architectural work, mask works fixed in semiconductor chip products, or a computer program. Only a concrete "medium of expression" can be copyrighted, facts, ideas, procedures, processes, systems, methods of operation, concepts, principles or discoveries cannot themselves be copyrighted. Items to be copyrighted must be original and not the result of copying another copyrighted property.

Infringement of a trademark, trade name, or trade dress involves use of one by the infringer that is the same as that of the owner or so similar that it is likely to deceive or to cause confusion or mistake on the part of the average purchaser. Infringement of a copyright involves the copying of a material and substantial portion of the protected work.