Trademark or Copyright?

Many people confuse the two, and often don't know which is more appropriate for their situation. Whichever suits your business needs, Donna L. Rodriguez, PLLC can steer you through the process.

What Is a Copyright?

Copyright is a form of protection provided to the authors of "original works" such as books, plays, music, and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished.

The copyright protects the form of expression rather than the subject matter of the writing. For example, a description of a machine could be copyrighted, but this would only prevent others from copying the description; it would not prevent others from writing a description of their own or from making and using the machine.

What Is a Trademark or Servicemark?

A trademark is a word, name, symbol or device which is used in trade with goods to indicate the source of the goods and to distinguish them from the goods of others.

Trademark rights may be used to prevent others from using a similar mark, but not to prevent others from making the same goods or from selling the same goods or services under a clearly different mark.

Not sure... read on for an interesting example.

Bikinis Officially Trademarked as the World’s Only Breastaurant

For years now, restaurants like Hooters and Twin Peaks have been among the most popular eateries in the world. These sports bar chains have become a mainstay of popular culture largely due to the attractive, shapely waitresses they hire as part of their conceptual theme. Until now, however, these kinds of restaurants didn’t have an official categorization. But Doug Guller, founder and CEO of the Texas-based Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill restaurant chain, has received trademark approval for the term “breastaurant” to describe his business. The nature of the patent is such that only his restaurant chain, Bikinis, can use the term in an official capacity in describing its concept.

Twin Peaks, Hooters, and Tilted Kilt are among the most popular and well-known restaurant chains that feature large-breasted, scantily-clad waitresses. By putting a patent on the term, however, Guller has taken a major step in putting his restaurant at the forefront of this burgeoning restaurant market. He has even gone the extra mile in his efforts to help Bikinis surpass Hooters as the most renowned and talked-about breastaurant in the world. In July of this year, he found an unincorporated Texas town listed for sale on the classified advertising site Craigslist. Guller bought the town and named it Bikini and has since revealed plans to turn his newly acquired pueblo into a tourist destination with the same theme as his restaurant.

Restaurant industry analysts attribute the success of the relatively new string of breastaurants to more than just their inherent sex appeal. These eateries pull out all the stops when it comes to catering to their customers by providing the ultra-friendly customer service, a comfortable and inviting atmosphere, plenty of large screen televisions for watching sports, and – perhaps as important as the eye candy – great tasting food and a wide selection of beers and other beverages.

While competitors like Hooters and Mugs ‘N’ Jugs do indeed have scantily clad waitresses, Bikinis is the only one that features its waitresses wearing bikini tops with their short shorts. It may seem like a minor detail but it makes all the difference in the world as far as the U.S. Patent Office is concerned – the bikini tops are what differentiate Guller’s chain from the others and what in their minds ultimately justified the patent. He currently has 14 locations in Texas, Oklahoma, and North Carolina but plans to expand into other states with a goal of 50 restaurants in addition to the town he purchased.

The breastaurant industry has built itself into one that generates just over $1 billion in annual revenue and Doug Guller shows no signs of slowing things down in his entrepreneurial efforts any time soon. Bikinis was recently listed on Inc. Magazine’s fastest growing companies as well as being listed on the Austin Business Journal’s Fast 50 four years in a row. The global recession has presented tremendous challenges for the restaurant industry as a whole but breastaurants have shown a certain degree of immunity in that regard and have actually seen a steady rise in business over the past five years. It seems that Doug Guller has put himself and Bikinis in the right place at the right time.