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How can an agency name be copyrighted?

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Quick Answer

Agency names cannot be copyrighted, because copyright law does not protect names of any kind, reports the U.S. Copyright Office. Owners of agency names may be able to protect them as service marks if they distinguish the services of one provider from other providers, states the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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Full Answer

Copyright protects intellectual works such as books, films, songs, architecture and computer software once it is fixed in a tangible form, explains the U.S. Copyright Office. Names of organizations, businesses, products, services or titles of works are not copyright protectable. Copyright does not protect names of performing groups, stage names or pen names.

An agency can protect its name with a service mark, which is similar to a trademark, if the name distinguishes the source of the services as unique from other providers, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. To qualify for a service mark, the agency must use or intend to use the service mark in commerce. The agency must choose the name, set it in a unique format and search the USPTO database to ensure no other agency uses similar wording or design. Most applicants hire a trademark attorney to assist with the search and application. The application process involves submitting the initial application online, paying a fee, monitoring the application process and working with the USPTO attorney during the application review.

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