Should I Trademark or Copyright My TV Show’s Name?

TV show’s name cannot be copyrighted, and neither can the general idea or concept. However, you can copyright the script for a TV show. Copyright is secured automatically when the work is created, and a work is “created” when it is fixed in a copy or phonorecord for the first time. “Copies” are material objects from which a work can be read or visually perceived either directly or with the aid of a machine or device, such as books, manuscripts, sheet music, film, videotape, or microfilm. If you register your show’s manuscript with the US Copyright Office, if you later file a suit against infringers, you generally will have an easier burden of proof.

A TV show’s name can be trademarked, but based on a “likelihood of confusion” balancing test developed by the courts. (similarity of the marks, relatedness of goods/services, strength of mark). Also, it’s a good idea to run a trademark search for different variations of your show’s name, with an experienced trademark attorney’s legal analysis of your mark, and help with registration.

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