I'm having trouble understanding the copyright law when registering one 2D character.

I understand that a 2D character is an illustration, so it falls under "Work of the Visual Arts." But I'm confused on the part that says

"Are you registering one work (one song, one poem, one illustration, etc.)? Check '' NO '' to this question if the work is one of the following: a collection of works (such as: book of poetry, CD of songs, multiple photographs and illustrations), a collective work, website or database because these works do not qualify for the Single Application."

I can submit one illustration of a character, but since a character has multiple expressions, can wear different clothes, etc., would one character still be considered as ONE work?

  • 2
    Consider trademarking the character and using copyright to protect any works that you create containing the character.
    – jqning
    Commented Sep 28, 2015 at 12:41

1 Answer 1


A character can not be copyrighted. Only a work (picture, text, movie etc.) featuring that character can.

However, a character can be registred as a trademark (more specifically, its name and its appearance).

  • I thought it was the other way around? Only logos and texts (i.e. company name) can be trademarked, and characters can only be copyrighted. Sorry, I can't seem to make comments so I'm posting this as an answer.
    – user2802
    Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 2:54
  • @user2802 Company names and logos are also protected by trademark law. A name by itself is usually not considered enough of a creative work to be considered eligible for copyright.
    – Philipp
    Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 7:03

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