Why You Should Protect Your Property with Copyrights
Just about any business owner, whether they know it or not, has created some form of intellectual property (IP) during their company’s life. IP is an extremely key part of a business. Actually, it’s the most significant part. Your IP can make up 40% to 90% of your company’s total value.
When it comes to IP protection, patents protect inventions and trademarks protect brand names, while copyrights can protect a wide range of original creative output, including literary, musical, dramatic, and artistic works, among others.
For instance, if you’re the original creator, all of the elements of your website are eligible for copyright protection. But if you’re not the original creator of these elements, you may not own the work displayed on your company’s website. In one of our other articles, we look at this topic more deeply, explain how you can protect work created by someone who works for you. All of this makes copyrights among the most vital and valuable forms of IP. If you’re serious about enforcing your ownership (and you most definitely should be), you need to register your work through the U.S. Copyright Office.
You do not have to formally register to own a company, the original authorship of the material is enough. In fact, any work created since 1978 is protected for the owner’s lifetime plus 70 additional years. If you’re using the work as part of your business, and you want to ensure you are able to protect your ownership, register your creations. This will provide you with much more leverage to enforce ownership, up to and including filing a lawsuit against the infringer. You’ll want to register promptly, as “timely registration,” or registering within three months of publication, makes it far easier to prevent infringers from stealing you work. With timely registration, there’s a legal presumption that your copyright is valid, and you can potentially recover up to $150,000, including legal fees, without having to prove actual monetary harm. But you don’t even have to sue an infringer to get them to stop—copyright registration also allows you to file for injunctions and restraining orders against violators to prevent further use.
The Copyright Symbol
A copyright notice, or the symbol ©, and is used to identify copyright ownership in tangible works. Although using the symbol used to be required for enforcement, the law changed in 1989, making its use optional.
To properly identify your copyright, you should use the © as well as list the original publication date and name of the owner.
An example of a properly listed copyright: © 2018 Jane Doe.
If you need any guidance regarding copyright use or help to navigate any area of intellectual property law, you should contact us as your Access Lawyer. We have years of experience working with business owners just like you to help them properly protect—and profit from—all of their creative assets.