When you’ve developed something new, you want to be sure to protect it with help from Virginia Copyright Infringement Attorneys at MartinWren, P.C. If your idea isn’t protected, it can be stolen — potentially forcing you into a lawsuit due to someone else taking claim over what you invented. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so you should always consider protecting your intellectual property before starting a new company.
If you’ve seen ABC’s Shark Tank, you know the importance of being first to market and protecting your idea. But do you know where to start? In this article, we will walk you through the three main types of legal protection for your intellectual property and what they each mean:
What is a Copyright?
Copyright is the statutory property right which grants to creators or authors the exclusive rights in their creations for a specified period of time. Seen as a foundational protection, this right is expressed in the United States Constitution as a means of promoting economic incentive for creative activities.
A copyright refers to protection around a literary piece. This includes music, songs, film, theater, books, art – anything that is written or creative that is considered literature rather than an item. Technically, all literary pieces are copyrighted as soon as they are created but in order to take legal action against someone who copied it, you will need to file for an official copyright.
Copyright protects the expression of ideas, but not the ideas themselves. As such, copyright law protects works such as books, pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works, music, photographs, movies and computer programs. Copyright law grants an owner a bundle of rights. Copyright Infringement Attorneys in Virginia can talk with you more in-depth about how as an owner of a copyright, you’d have exclusive right to:
- reproduce the work;
- prepare derivative works based upon the work;
- distribute copies of the work to the public;
- perform the work publicly;
- display the work publicly; and
- perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.
What is a Patent?
A patent refers to an original invention or product. This is a physical item that you created and want to protect. It is something that you believe solves a problem in the specific market you plan on entering. For example, if you developed a product that allowed someone to cut onions without crying, this would be something you’d want to patent. The key with a patent is that you need to prove that this is a unique and original idea, and that it doesn’t exist anywhere else.
With help from our VA Copyright Infringement Attorneys, you can file for a design patent for the individual aspects of your product, or a utility patent for how you use your product. Note that patents do expire. A utility patent only lasts for twenty years and a design patent only lasts for fourteen.
What is a Trademark?
A trademark is for all things related to your business. This includes your logo, your tagline, your slogan etc. These are elements of your brand you will want to protect. Like the copyright, your logo and tagline are automatically trademarked the moment they are created, however, if you want to combat someone legally, you will need to have your trademarks registered. Unlike patents however, trademarks do not expire.
Obtaining All Three Protections
It is possible for you to have all three types of intellectual property protection in your one business. You could have a utility patent on the actual product you are selling, a copyrighted marketing video or advertisement, and a trademarked logo. When you are considering protecting your new idea, consider which type of legal protection you should choose so you can accurately protect your intellectual property.
Filing a Copyright Lawsuit
In the event someone has infringed a copyright you own, you must satisfy two elements to maintain a lawsuit for copyright infringement. First and foremost, you must prove that you own a valid copyright. In the United States, a copyright arises upon creation; it is not necessary to register the work in question for the copyright to exist. As such, you will own a valid copyright merely by creating the work in question. This does not mean, however, that registration should be considered either unimportant or inconsequential. On the contrary, copyright registration has a number of benefits, including the right to seek statutory damages and attorney’s fees in the event of an infringement.
The second requirement of a copyright infringement claim is proof that the copyrighted work has been copied. This sounds obvious but can often be difficult to establish. Copyright Infringement Attorneys in VA at MartinWren, P.C. can help you gather evidence to infer that the copyrighted work was copied, such as if the alleged infringer had access to the copyrighted work and produced a very similar work.
Copyright infringement actions may also exist against parties other than the infringer on secondary or vicarious liability grounds. For example, if an individual or entity has knowledge of the infringing activity by another and induces, causes, or materially contributes to the infringing activity, contributing infringement has occurred.
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
Given the rise of the digital age, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was enacted to clarify copyright law in cyberspace and offer safe harbors to online and internet service providers that host websites posting infringed copyrighted materials. Under the DMCA, an online provider may avoid vicarious liability if it responds quickly to notices to “take down” copyrighted material. The DMCA contains a process for notifying and contacting internet service providers that are hosting infringed materials. It is vital to follow this process in order to preserve all possible claims.
Copyright holders must be vigilant in ensuring their copyrights are not violated given the speed and ease at which material can be copied and pasted on the Web. When copyrighted material is infringed on the internet, the copyright holder must follow the provisions of the DMCA.
We can help stop the infringement and protect your rights. Our legal team has the legal experience and technical knowledge to protect your intellectual property and will zealously represent you by providing cost-effective and practical solutions to the infringement of your copyright. If you or your business has been victimized by copyright infringement, contact our Virginia Copyright Infringement Attorneys at MartinWren, P.C. at (434) 817-3100 immediately.