Understanding Copyright and Trademark Laws
When a company thinks about its assets, its physical assets, such as property, equipment and vehicles, may be the first things that come to mind. However, a business should not overlook its intellectual assets.
Intellectual assets can include a variety of things. They may include documents that show processes. They could also include artistic works such as logos and slogans.
To protect intellectual works against unauthorized use, a company must trademark or copyright them. This means registering the work either at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or the United States Copyright Office.
Original works such as photos, images and books are automatically copyrighted at the time they are created. Even forms of social media, such as a Tweet, can be protected under copyright law. The work, however, must have a creative aspect in order for it to be copyright protected. This means that a simple list cannot be copyrighted. However, if the list is expanded and includes videos or images, for example, then it can be copyrighted.
It is important to understand that the work as a whole is copyrighted, not the individual elements or ideas within the work. For example, just because a person writes a story about unicorns does not mean that nobody else can write about the same subject matter. They just cannot copy the entire work, or storyline.
If someone steals these works and the company wants to sue, they must already have the works registered with the United States Copyright Office. This process involves filing a form, paying a fee and then sending the work to the United States Copyright Office.
Trademark protection is a little different than copyright protection. Trademarks are defined as words, names, colors, sounds or symbols that identify a product. This means that a company can trademark a logo, slogan or name, whereas they would copyright a book or video. Trademark protection can be quite complicated. A person must first perform a thorough search to ensure the trademark is not already in use. It is a good idea to hire a lawyer, since there are often legal issues involved.
What the Law Can Do
As the owner of the work, you choose how it can be used. If you notice that an entity outside of the company uses your work without your permission, and you have your work copyrighted, you are afforded legal protections. If someone misuses your work, this is called infringement and it is against the law. You could sue the person or company and they could be forced to compensate you for the damages you incurred. For example, if you lost income because of the infringement, you could sue the entity for the amount of money you lost.
Learn More About Intellectual Property
While a business’ ability to make money is very important, so are its assets. Unauthorized use of any assets can cause a company to lose money.
Make sure all of your business assets are protected. Orlando trademark & copyright lawyer B.F. Godfrey from Godfrey Legal can offer you the protections your company needs so you can succeed. To schedule a consultation, call (407) 890-0023 or fill out the online form.