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This is the first of three tips that explore the types of intellectual property protection that are critical to establishing and protecting your brand in the small business environment.
A copyright protects an original artistic or literary work. This could include a company logo, a computer software application, a jingle, a TV advertisement, or Web site content, among other things. Copyright is secured automatically when the work is created.
Registration with the Copyright Office is not required to secure copyrights, however there are several advantages to registration. Not only is the application relatively inexpensive, but copyright registration is also usually required before an infringement suit can be brought. Timely registration (i.e., before an infringement becomes known) may also provide a broader range of remedies in an infringement suit, such as statutory damages, without which it may be more difficult to bring the suit.
As the creator of a work owns the copyrights automatically, companies must also be diligent in obtaining the copyrights from all its employees and/or consultants through a “work made for hire” provision in an engagement agreement. Otherwise the company will not have standing to bring an infringement suit even though they paid for the creation of the work.
While processing times vary, registration is effective the date the Copyright Office, part of the Library of Congress, receives your application.
Caroline Vanderlip, CEO
New York, N.Y.
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To submit a tip for consideration, first check our archive of previous tips to make sure you're not repeating a tip someone has already contributed. Then send the tip to Small Business channel contributor Michelle Dammon Loyalka. Because of the volume of material she receives, she may not respond to each individual.