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Understanding Your Intellectual Property: Copyrights and Trademarks
September 21, 2016
Understanding Your Intellectual Property: Copyrights and Trademarks Did you know that your brand has monetary value? For example, Coca-Cola’s brand is worth nearly $72 billion. Developing creative works represents an important investment of time, effort, and other valuable resources. Taking steps to secure your name, brand, logo, or work is an important aspect of protecting your investment.
What Is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual Property can be a confusing topic, and one that all business owners should know about. Sadly however, many entrepreneurs simply don't.
Intellectual property is in very simple terms an idea that legally belongs to somebody, be that a company or an individual. Only the owner of that idea, or somebody the owner has a legal agreement with can use the idea. Generally, the owner of the idea is usually its creator unless someone paid them to create the idea, in which case the idea's owner is the person who paid for the idea.
There are different kinds of intellectual property, but for the purpose of this article, we will focus on copyright and trademark.
Copyright — is a form of legal protection that protects original, artistic and literary works.
Copyright gives the creator the exclusive right to its use and distribution with the intention of allowing the creator to receive compensation for his or her intellectual effort. Copyright protects a work from the time it is created in a fixed form.
Copyright protects any kind of art, including musical works (including lyrics), literary works (books, articles, blog posts), dramatic works (plays, tv scripts, screenplays, plays), photographs and illustrations (paintings, drawings, graphic designs), motion pictures and videos, and sound recordings.
The owner of a copyright has the exclusive rights to:
1. Make copies of the work 2. Make derivatives or revisions (modifying work to produce new work) 3. Distribute or publish the work (giving someone your work under a license) 4. Perform the work in public, or 5. Display the work in public.
Do I need to register my Copyrighted work?
You are not required to register your work for copyright. Copyright is secured automatically when the work is fixed in a tangible form.
While registration of the work with the Copyright Office is not required for copyright protection, Copyright registration may confer advantages including the ability to sue for infringement, and helping you secure statutory damages and attorney fees.
Early copyright registration is the best proactive step you can take to ensure that you will have the full protection should an infringement occur.
How can the Robinson Law Group help with my Copyright protection?
Our firm has the experience to assist you with your Copyright material to include, but not limited to: • Registration - There are important benefits that are gained by registering a work. Registration makes it easier to prove that you own the work and to legally pursue infringement if it occurs. • Licensing - This is a contractual agreement between the copyright owner and user who wants to use the brand in association with a product for an agreed period of time. Having a license helps produce revenue for your creative work. • Cease and Desist - Also known as an “infringement letter” is a document sent to an individual or business to halt purportedly unlawful activity and not take it up again later. The letter warns that if the infringer does not cease and desist by the deadline specified in the letter, that party may be sued.
Trademark — is any word, name, symbol, design, device, or any combination used to identify products or services and distinguishes the sources of the services or goods back to the owner.
What are the advantages of a Trademark?
Whether you’re an entrepreneur, artist or interested in starting a business to sell a product or offer a service, trademark plays a significant role in the protection of your rights.
A trademark need not be registered as common law rights are automatically created through a use of the mark in commerce.
Although trademark registration is not mandatory, it is a really good idea to register your trademark for several reasons.
Registering your trademark gives you a legal presumption that you own the mark and have an exclusive right to use it.
This allows you to sue for infringement should someone use your work illegally. This grants the trademark owner exclusive rights to use the mark or brand of the product in connection with the goods or services.
How can the Robinson Law Group help secure your Trademark?
Most trademark applicants use a lawyer for filing an application, and for receiving legal advice regarding the use of trademark.
An attorney may help you avoid potential legal drawbacks. Common legal assistance that a lawyer can provide with your trademark needs include:
• Trademark Registration - If you decide to apply for Trademark registration, we can assist you from start you finish. Trademark registration is obtained from the United States Patent & Trademark Office to help protect your brand. Trademark registration has many advantages such as creating a legal presumption of ownership and the right to sue for infringement should an infringement occur.
Registering your mark will help prevent others from potentially selecting a confusingly similar mark. Trademark registration will also allow you to place a "®" mark next to your brand name and indicates that you have federally registered your trademark. Thus, registration is the most important step in protecting your trademark.
• Clearance Search - Search of federal and state trademark registration databases for similar marks that are used on related goods or services before filing. Our search tells if your mark or a similar mark is already registered or is awaiting registration.
• This prevents a trademark application from being rejected by the United States Patent & Trademark Office and prevents a possible infringement lawsuit. Please note, the USPTO does not conduct trademark searches. Thus, it's crucial for a lawyer to do a trademark search before you choose a mark.
• Cease and Desist Letter - A document written by a lawyer sent to an infringer to halt purportedly unlawful activity. The letter warns that if the infringer does not cease and desist by the deadline specified in the letter, that party may be sued.
A lawyer is able to offer legal advice regarding the use of your trademark, filing an application, and the likelihood of success in the registration process. Further, an attorney may help you prevent legal pitfalls that can occur in the future.
How Do I Protect My Intellectual Property?
Register your intellectual property. Depending on the type of IP in question, visit one or more of the following websites to learn more about the registration process:
Copyrights — U.S. Copyright Office
Trademarks — U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (Trademark Division)
Patents — U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (Patent Division)
Trade secrets — Trade secrets are not registered, but you must identify them as secret or confidential. In many cases, they must contain a warning label.
Contact the Robinson Law Group today for your FREE consultation, and we are more than prepared to answer any questions, help you review your options and more regarding your Copyright or Trademark ideas.
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I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!