Trademark and copyright laws can get very complicated, and if you’re a company that releases any type of creative work, you need to be aware of how they could affect you. Copyrights can apply to many things, from the color schemes you use for your branding to the images you use on your website.
Not fully understanding how copyright works could get you in a lot of trouble and open you to all sorts of litigation. The last thing you want is to have to pay thousands in legal fees and compensation because of an error that could have easily been avoided. Here are some of the things most people don’t know about copyrights law.
Work Doesn’t Have to Be Registered to be Protected
One of the most common myths about copyright is that you have to register work for it to be protected. Another related myth is that if a piece of work doesn’t have a copyright symbol next to it, then you can use it whichever way you want. In reality, work is protected the minute it’s created. The only reason why people get their work registered is so they can prove that they are the rightful owners of the work.
It is still recommended that you have your work registered, however. This will make our case much stronger in the event you want to sue. And forget about this myth that you can protect your work by sending yourself a letter with a copy of the work to authenticate the approximate date of creation. This is not protecting your work in any way and no provision forces a court of law to accept this as evidence, so get it formally registered instead.
A Cease and Desist Letter Has to be Sent First
Indeed, people will often send a cease and desist letter before they sue when it comes to intellectual property cases, but there’s nothing that forces them to. They can go directly for a court order, and you’ll be forced to dispute the case if that happens.
So, if you received any type of court document, don’t assume that you can just stop using the copyrighted material and that the lawsuit will go away. You will need to contact a trademark or copyright litigation lawyer immediately to know what the proper course of action should be. They could decide to sit down with the other party and come up with a settlement, go all the way to court, or even convince them to drop the suit by bargaining some sort of deal with them.
Derivative Works are Also Protected
You should also know that work that is derived from copyrighted material is also subject to copyright law. For instance, if you wanted to create a fanfiction novel based on a famous Star Wars character, you could only release it for your own pleasure. The minute you decide to sell it for profit from it in any way, you’re committing copyright infringement and you can expect the party who owns the work to take action.
These are just some of the things most people ignore about copyright laws. All business owners should learn as much about copyrights and intellectual property as lawsuits are more common than they think and can be disastrous.