How to Copyright an Idea or Concept

Written by nicki howell
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Pin
  • Email
How to Copyright an Idea or Concept

The concept of copyrighting originated in Britain during the 18th century. This concept has expanded over the years to cover everything from books to maps to films to software. Many people who come up with ideas or concepts are interested in copyrighting them, but aren't sure where to start.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Make sure the idea or concept is original work. If you purchased the idea or concept from another individual, make sure you have the supporting documentation.

  2. 2

    Determine the exact category of your work. When you fill out your copyright application, you will need to indicate which category you work falls into. The U.S. Copyright Office has a list available on its website; or you can request a list by calling (202) 707-3000.

  3. 3

    Request a U.S. Trademark application. You can print an application online, or you can request one by calling (202) 707-3000. You will need to include a £13 filing fee (check made payable to the U.S. Copyright Office).

  4. 4

    Allow yourself enough time while filling out the application. Completing an copyright application can take an hour or more. Make sure to fill in the information completely and accurately.

  5. 5

    Be patient while waiting for approval. Your application may take up to 8 months to process. If you haven't received any information within that time frame, contact the U.S. Copyright Office to determine the status of your application.

Tips and warnings

  • Don't worry about renewing your copyright. Once you receive approval of your copyright, there's no need to renew. Copyright is good for the lifetime of the certificate holder, plus an additional 70 years.
  • Understand what you can't copyright. There are certain things that can't be copyrighted, such as the names of people or organisation names.

Don't Miss


  • All types
  • Articles
  • Slideshows
  • Videos
  • Most relevant
  • Most popular
  • Most recent

No articles available

No slideshows available

No videos available

By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie policy.