How Do I Protect My Copyright?

A Monmouth County Business Lawyer Explains

Copyright protection is a fundamental part of what we do at our Monmouth County business law firm. The concept of copyright is one of the most important legal tools available for protecting your business’ unique brand and voice.

The Basics of Copyright

The term “copyright” is often used interchangeably with “trademark,” despite the fact that the two are used to protect entirely different business interests. The United States Copyright Office indicates that a copyright protects “original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture.” The same statute goes on to stipulate that “copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed.”

In a business setting, copyrightable assets may include proprietary software, procedural manuals, web pages, educational materials, and artistic content created for the company by an employee. Property such as slogans, logos, brand names and color schemes would fall under the “trademark” category.

As an example, say your business sells a particular service. Any description, training materials, advertising copy (except for slogans), relevant software code or photographs created for the company by an employee would be copyrightable materials. By claiming a copyright, you state your legal authority and control over the materials, and therefore it cannot be used or copied by any other individual or entity without your permission. Conversely, the service’s brand name, color scheme or its primary advertising slogan would need to be protected under a trademark, because they are used to distinguish your service from a competitor.

How Do I Protect My Copyright?

The simplest way of protecting your copyright is by posting a notice somewhere on the work with the name of your company and the year of the work’s creation or completion, e.g. Copyright 2013 (Your Business Name Here). This would typically be more than enough to ensure protection for a webpage or low-priority materials.

If you think your business’ creative work needs stronger legal protection, then it is best to file a copyright application with the United States Copyright Office. Though the application process is designed to be simple, it does not hurt to have a Monmouth County business attorney assist you with filing the application. Having proper legal counsel will ensure that your copyright claim is legally airtight, which could prove invaluable in business litigation if someone decides to infringe upon your intellectual property.

If you have questions or concerns about protecting your business’ copyrightable assets, contact our firm today.

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