The First Matter
The first matter is about intellectual property. When an expression is unique then it is the property of the creator. But it has to be unique to the creator, not copied from another.
Trademarks and Patents
A trademark deals with a word or phrase that deal specifically with a subject. A specific game, or a certain brand of product. Tires have brands and these brands can be trademarked. A trademark can’t be copyrighted.
A patent is a procedure, a way of setting out how a thing works. Like a trademark patents can’t be copyrighted.
Common Law vs Registered
Before the Bern Convention you could have a common law copyright. To claim that all you needed was a ©. That gave you an edge in American Courts. But to actually get the protection of a copyright you had to send two copies of the work plus a fee to the Library of Congress. It’s how Lee Gold of Alarums and Excursions protected her issues of the APA back in the early days. And it’s how ACE Book back in the early 60s was able to publish the Lord of the Ring as pubic domain, because the novel wasn’t copyrighted under American law at the time.
In the case of trademarks you do still have two distinctions.In the case of the common law trademark all you need to do is to add a ™ to the brand in question along with a declaration saying that thus and such is trademark for your product concerning this matter. So when Gygax said that Dungeons and Dragons is a trademark—Dungeons & Dragons™—of Tactical Studies Rules for It’s game of fantasy battles—or something like that, that was the common law trademark for D&D at the time.
To register a trademark you have to apply to the US Patent office and pay a fee, and the trademark has to be unique. In addition, a registered trademark has to be renewed. The trademark qualifies for registration and is registered you get to put a ® after it. A registration lapses, then the trademark in question is no longer registered.
And always remember that copyrights, patents, and trademarks are not forever
Please note that this was posted here because I can’t trust Face Book. But I can share this with FB, and through them the DJ group on FB.