The famed Irish poet and playwright, Oscar Wilde, once said, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.” That’s all fun and games until it is your work, or your ideas, or your creative output on the line. If it’s your work that’s being imitated that ‘flattery’ might feel more like a punch in the gut.
Spare yourself the blow and protect your intellectual property. If you need to protect your product or ideas, you’re in the right place. Whether you are working on a creative work in your garage or through a startup company, the benefits of protecting your work are equally important.
Copyright is a form of protection for original works of authorship (like paintings, stories, photographs, songs) fixed in a tangible medium of expression (like paper, film, recordings). Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.
Copyright is used to protect literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed.
Copyright protects original works of authorship. A patent protects inventions or discoveries. Ideas and discoveries are not protected by copyright law, although the way in which they are expressed may be. A trademark protects words, phrases, symbols, or designs identifying the source of the goods or services of one party and distinguishing them from those of others, but if a trademark includes artistic aspects, it could also be protected with a copyright.
So, how do you protect things that you have created, such as a poem, a song or a story that you wrote? Or a painting or drawing you have created? Or even a photograph you took? There are many types of works that can be protected under copyright law but, unfortunately, copyright protection only gives you a golden ticket to assert your rights, it does not prevent people from copying your work. What does this mean? Well, if someone copies your creation, you can (a) tell them to stop and maybe ask them for some compensation for their bad behavior and/or (b) file a lawsuit against them.
In order to bring a civil action for copyright infringement (i.e., to sue someone that is copying your work) you MUST first file a federal copyright registration of your work.
To get statutory damages and attorney fees, you must file a federal registration within 3 months of publishing the work or within 1 month of learning about the infringement. So, it is important to file a federal registration for your work, and it is best to do so within 3 months after it is published.
Common law copyright protection is not enough to protect your work. You may have heard people say “just put your idea in a tangible medium (like on paper) and you will get common-law copyright protection”. This is simply not true.
For anything created after January 1, 1978, it is only protected under common-law if it has NOT been fixed in a tangible medium. For example, if you write a poem in your head and share it with others by reciting the poem, you have common-law copyrights in and to that poem. But the common-law copyrights only give you the ability to control when, where and how your poem is eventually going to be published.
But if you have fixed your work in a tangible medium, you no longer have any common-law copyright protection. Instead, you have Federal statutory protection.
We are experienced and professional attorneys helping to support artists, entrepreneurs, companies, and more protect their work and ideas. We have created an online system that makes the process easy and cost-effective for you. By creating do it yourself options, we can reduce the cost to you and maintain a high level of quality service. While you submit your documentation via our website, we are always available for a phone conference or to answer questions if you run into any issues. We have your back, no matter what.
There is always an attorney reviewing your paperwork and ensuring everything is good to go. If not, we call you right away.
We’ve made the process easy and intuitive, but we know that talking with someone is always helpful. It’s why we’re always available. Questions? Concerns? We are here to answer your questions and get you started. Call us at 706-621-5777 for more information.