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Small businesses thrive on innovation. In the United States, people who make new creative works like music, art, literature and computer programs are granted a legal protection called copyright over their works. A copyright gives the creator of a work the exclusive right to reproduce the work and sell it for profit. Copyright protection can be beneficial to those who produce creative works, but they can also have some negative effects on small businesses.

Copyright is relevant to more than authors, artists, musicians and other creative people. The commercial world relies on material which is protected by copyright. For example, on most days in most offices people are creating copyright protected material.

This overview of copyright in the business context helps your organization:

  • to look after and recognize the value of the copyright it has, and
  • to make sure it does not infringe the copyright of others.

Copyright is a type of intellectual property which can be bought or sold just like any other property. The word “copyright” refers to a bundle of exclusive rights in certain works and materials.

These exclusive rights include the rights:

  • to reproduce the material, and
  • to make the material available online or to first digitize the material.

If anybody other than the copyright owner does any of these things without the consent of the copyright owner, then the other person has infringed the owner’s copyright.

  • What are the Effects of Copyright?
  • How does Copyright Affect the Society?
  • What is Copyright Advantages and Disadvantages?
  • What is the Main Problem of Copyright?
  • Why is Copyright Important to a Business?
  • What are the Benefits of Copyright?
  • What Causes Copyright Issues?
  • What are the Examples of Copyright Issues?
  • How do Copyrights Protect a Business?
  • How to Deal With Copyright Infringement
  • How is Copyright a Valuable Asset in Business?
  • What does it Mean to Copyright a Business?

Copyright violations generally occur when one party utilizes another party’s creative or scientific work without his permission. The U.S. Copyright Right Act makes copyright violation a federal crime. It also allows injured parties to file civil lawsuits against copyright violators to recover money damages. Many businesses rely on copyrights for their means of revenue. Copyright laws carry stiff penalties to protect creators of unique works, and to safeguard the economic benefits they deliver for society.

Read Also: Benefits of Non-disclosure Agreements

Copyright and intellectual property violations cost U.S. businesses approximately $28 billion yearly and deprive the U.S. economy of approximately 2.1 million jobs. Copyright violations also result in lower quality consumer goods through substandard counterfeit products. The U.S. government suffers tax revenue losses from illegal counterfeit sales and also must spend money on copyright enforcement efforts.

Copyright violations can result in significant legal penalties. Copyright violators can be held liable for civil damages, court costs, and attorneys’ fees. Separate criminal fines of up to $250,000 per offense, and even jail time, may also apply. Employees can also face employment discipline and discharge for violating copyright laws, and students who violate copyrights can face disciplinary actions by college ethics committees.

How does Copyright Affect the Society?

Copyright is at its core a legal construct: it is an extension of the right of property to ideas once they have been expressed and become “works”. It is a legal recognition of the importance of creation, not only its economic importance, but also the importance of authorship since copyright also includes “moral rights” (such as the right to see a work attributed to its author and the right to the integrity of the work). It provides an additional motivation for artistic endeavors, a market-based reward.

However, a malfunctioning copyright system or too tight copyright protection might hamper creation. Copyright protection for example should not result in a prohibition of “follow-on creation”, meaning creation based on past works.

Moreover, as creativity finds new supports, technologies develop, and creation and distribution processes change, the copyright system too must evolve. A functioning copyright system needs to be based on a profound and up-to-date understanding of value creation processes as well as the roles of their actors.

Copyright also has a very important economic aspect. Its purpose is to make it possible for authors to make a living from creative activities; when enforced effectively, copyright also functions as an incentive to invest in creative activities as it secures returns from the market to reward investors’ risk-taking. The growing economic importance of copyright industries has been acknowledged in many countries.

In order to foster the financial supports to and rewards from acts of creation, it is necessary to combine fine-tuned copyright protection laws with an efficient system of enforcement, general awareness of copyright rules in the population, as well as an efficient market for copyrighted products and services. In particular, facilitating the connections between creators and users is a challenge that has been met through different means, such as the services of collective management organizations.

Also, the last aspect of copyright is not the least important: the point of view of access. Culture is a common good, and even if culture is of course much larger than the sum of copyright-protected works, every work that is left inaccessible because of restrictions created by copyright limits public access to the cultural heritage.

Copyright creates an exclusion mechanism to limit the ability of individuals to exploit creative works, but in order for the ideas themselves to remain public and for the public to be able to access and enjoy culture, the scope of these restrictions has to be carefully adjusted.

This can be achieved through various means, including a carefully designed scope of protectable subject matter, a limited term of protection that will allow for a strong public domain, appropriate limitations, exceptions and exemptions that allow certain uses without authorization by the right holders, as well as systems of licensing that will promote the access to cultural works for example through libraries, museums or in education.

A national copyright system is therefore a complex balance of sometimes opposed, sometimes converging interests including many actors, processes, rules and policies. Its success in achieving its goals will depend on its capacity to respond to various challenges and adapt to the evolution of cultural processes. For this purpose, the development of the copyright system needs a solid and reliable information base that is collected in an objective manner.

What is Copyright Advantages and Disadvantages?

Under the Copyright Act, the copyright holder can expect benefits like modification, right to reproduction, distribution, freedom to public display, and general performance. However, this act doesn’t guarantee safety against infringement. 

So, in case the act is violated, it is totally up to the copyright objection owner whether they should take any legal action or not. And any such claims made by the copyright owner would be verified by law in the court. Simply put, if you have a creation copyrighted, you can claim it in court if you come to know that someone else is using your creation without your permission. 

However, before doing that, you should also know the advantages and disadvantages of The Copyright Act. This will help you in expecting the best solutions if you ever need to make a copyright claim in the future. 


  • Automatic Protection of the Copyright

One of the significant pros of copyright law is that it will automatically extend its protection to all the innovative products of an individual or a company as soon as they are published.

  • Prompt Preventive Measure

Another benefit of this act is that copyright registration is put on record at the Indian Copyright Office. Hence, no one else would be able to make any unauthorized use of an original work. So, if the copyright owner discovers that someone is copying their work, they can immediately send a `cease’ notice, and the matter would be taken care of by the law. 

  • The Incentive to Innovate

This could be one of the most lucrative benefits of copyright law. It helps foster innovation. If a small software development company spends a lot of money on new software, they want to safeguard their software from infringement in the future. With copyright law, they can be sure their product is safe, and thus, they will be able to focus on other creative productions.  


So, now that you know the advantages of the copyright claims, let’s move straight on to the disadvantages of the same. 

  • Fees and Registration

Companies need to register their work and products with the Indian Copyright Office to seek penal damages caused due to any infringement or for receiving an order to stop an infringement process. To register with the Indian Copyright Office, companies or individuals need to pay a fee ranging from ₹500 – ₹5000. Also, registering for more than one work can be expensive and time-consuming for small businesses.

  • Expensive for Small Firms

Small companies and individuals who cannot pay much while registering copyright may find the copyright law costly. Companies need to designate someone to enforce the copyright rules, and most of the matters are taken care of on a civil basis. And such processes may require legal representations as well. 

During appeals, such copyright owners may have difficulty affording such long-standing representations. Also, a small company or a defendant may not have the suitable means to fight a legal battle that’s caused due to copyright infringement. 

  • Ambiguous Nature

Although copyright law is pretty straightforward, there are a few ambiguous areas. Hence, it’s prudent to be aware of those so that it’s easy to interpret the various law processes. There are a few concepts, like the fair use of doctrine is something that is not clearly defined in the works of the original creators. 

And such cases need to be decided by the judge on a case-by-case basis. Hence, there are times when a company may spend a lot of time and money pursuing a case only to find out that their work wasn’t really infringed as per the court’s classification. 

What is the Main Problem of Copyright?

The issue with copyright is that it only safeguards the expression of ideas by the creator and not the underlying idea. Works of literature, music or art (barring Photographs) are granted the protection of copyright for a period which spans the creator’s life and 60 years from the year of the author’s demise.

Businesses of every type — from e-commerce companies to software, to life science ventures, to production and publishing businesses — have their own histories that come from their founders’ visions and dispositions, historical and geographical factors, market structures and the like. However, despite all the varying points of origin, companies end up having a lot in common. This may be particularly true in case of publishing companies.

For instance, have you ever put an image or a video to a website, only for it to have been brought down because of copyright issues? Copyright issues include Copyright infringement. Copyright infringement is using works protected by copyright law without prior permission, breaching certain exclusive rights granted to the copyright holder, such as the right to reproduce, distribute, display or perform the protected work.

With the internet era going on, anything you take off the web is copyrighted. Just because it does not have a mark on itself does not mean it is not an original piece of work. Hence, to avoid such infringement issues, one must have the knowledge of:

1) The Copyright law: One must have complete information of the law. This will prove to be helpful when you will be able to distinguish plagiarism from authentic copying. If someone writes something from your work but gives due credit to you, you can not put him under the scanner. You must also have the ability to examine what all copyright does not protect. Hence, knowledge of the law is required if you want to safeguard your work properly.

2) Creativity: One must be creative enough to make sure he himself is not creating something that is already available on the internet. Although copyright does not protects the underlying idea but fictional characters, storyline and the likes are guarded. Thus, the bulb of creativity must glow the brightest.

3) Know the difference between different intellectual properties: There is a legit difference between copyright, trademark and patent. Copyright safeguards your creative work, trademark gives you exclusive right over a logo, symbol or a name, and patent excludes others from manufacturing or trading an invention. Therefore, absolute knowledge of the kinds of intellectual property plays an important role in handling various copyright issues.

Hence, copyright comes with a lot of responsibilities. Not only does copyright prove to be a shield to you but you also have to make sure you do not cross the line and put an allegation on someone for plagiarism based on your apprehension.

Why is Copyright Important to a Business?

Copyright can be an important source of income for your business. If your business owns the copyright in a piece of work – eg an advertising jingle, a technical manual, a song lyric or a magazine article – you can control how it’s used commercially. For example, you could charge every time someone plays your jingle on the radio, downloads your manual from the internet, makes copies of your song lyrics or reprints your magazine article.

Copyright means that copies of your work:

  • cannot be made, issued, rented or loaned without your permission
  • may not be adapted, performed or broadcast without your permission

Importantly, it means you can take action to stop any copyright infringement. Since copyright is a private right, it is your responsibility to take action if anyone makes use of the whole or a substantial part of your work without your permission.

Economic rights

Like other intellectual property rights, copyright can be:

  • sold
  • licensed
  • transferred
  • inherited

Moral rights

Moral rights are only available for literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and film, as well as some performances. Moral rights mean you:

  • can object to distortions of your work
  • have the right to be identified as the author of your work (provided you have clearly declared you want that right)

Unlike economic rights, moral rights cannot be sold or otherwise transferred. However, the rights holder can choose to waive these rights. There are also certain situations where moral rights may not apply.

What are the Benefits of Copyright?

Copyrights give the owner of specific content the exclusive rights to reproduce or distribute copies of the work, prepare derivative works, and perform, display, and broadcast the work publicly. Additionally, if someone has copyright ownership, they can allow others to utilize these exclusive rights as well.

One question that have is why anyone would take the additional steps and expenses to register their copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office. While each copyright case is different, some business attorneys believe the following five benefits you gain from registering your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office greatly enhances the value of your copyright.

Public Record of Ownership

If you register your copyrights, it creates a public record of ownership. This is important as ownership is at the center of many copyright lawsuits. Even if the infringer is not claiming that they own the creation, the copyright owner must prove that they, in fact, are the valid owners of the property in order to win a dispute on copyright infringement.

Additionally, formally registering your copyright can also help you deter potential infringers. Finally, publicly showing that you own the copyright goes a long way to show the courts that you actually own the content if it is ever challenged in the future.

Presumption of Ownership

Courts hold that copyright registration—before or within five years of publication—establishes evidence of the validity of the copyrights and the facts stated within the registration certificate. This means ownership of the copyright is presumed, and anyone seeking to challenge ownership will have the burden to demonstrate otherwise.

This is especially important when the copyright infringer has or is causing severe and irreparable harm that requires immediate legal attention. By formally registering your copyright, the courts will be able to quickly order the infringer to stop their unlawful actions.

The Ability to Enforce Copyrights by Filing a Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

The most valuable part of filing your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office is the ability to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement. This is because a copyright owner cannot file a lawsuit to enforce or protect its copyrights until the U.S. Copyright Office has issued a registration.

Further, the U.S. Copyright Office typically takes seven months to process the copyright after it is filed. However, for certain complex cases, it can take longer. However, there is an expedited consideration that a creator can request, though this can be extremely costly.  

Eligibility for Statutory Damages, Attorney Fees, and Costs of Suit

When copyrights are formally registered prior to any infringement, or within three months of publication of the work, a copyright owner can pursue statutory damages. This is extremely important as proving the damages in a copyright infringement lawsuit can be extremely complex.

An award of statutory damages allows the copyright owner to recover a certain amount for each work infringed. Notwithstanding the owner’s ability to prove actual damages. Being eligible for these damages can give the plaintiff the leverage necessary to force the defendant to settle early.

Protection Against Importation of Infringing Works

The owner of a valid and registered copyright can participate in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection program (CBP). This protection allows the CBP to seize and detain imported goods that violate intellectual property rights in the United States. You must register your copyright to participate in this program.

What Causes Copyright Issues?

According to the US Copyright Office, copyright infringement occurs when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner. 

Copyrights protect the original works of a creator such as written texts, music, images, videos, software codes, and others. If you are a creator, your work is automatically protected by copyright law when you publish it in any form of tangible medium. This protection grants you the exclusive rights to publish, sell, modify and reproduce your unique work. 

If anyone else is using your creative work in one of the forms mentioned above without asking you for permission, they are likely infringing on your copyrights. Section 51 of the Copyright Act specifies when copyright is deemed to be infringed: 

  • Any act that only the copyright holder is authorized to do without obtaining prior permission from the copyright owner.
  • The import of infringing copies of an original work.
  • The reproduction of original works without permission from the copyright owner.
  • Permitting the place to be used for communication, selling, distribution, or exhibition of an infringing work unless the person was not aware or had no reason to believe that such permission will result in the violation of copyright.

What are the Examples of Copyright Issues?

As a copyright owner, it is important to learn how copyright works in order to be well-positioned when facing infringements of your creative works. There are two key elements that account for copyright infringement. First, the concerned work has to be the original creation of the author. Secondly, the potential infringer actually copied the work of the creator. 

So, what are the actual copyright infringement examples? Basic examples that could be made liable for a copyright infringement include:

  • The use of someone’s song as background music in a YouTube video.
  • Downloading songs or videos from an unauthorized website. 
  • Using images found on the internet. 

Exceptions to copyright infringement 

When starting to protect against copyright infringements, it is important to know that there are a few circumstances under which someone might use your creative work without infringing. 

The first scenario is the point when your copyright expires and is turned into the public domain. Copyright protection usually lasts for the life span of the author plus 70 years. After that, they become a public domain and are free to use by anyone. 

A frequently used exception from infringement is the fair use doctrine. The fair use exception allows others to use a work without the permission of the copyright owner in certain circumstances. Under copyright law, those exceptional types of uses include criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, and research as examples that may qualify as fair use. However, there is no legal definition of fair use and whether it applies to a certain use is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

In a dispute, courts will consider a few factors including the purpose and character of the use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount of work that was used, and the market effect of the used work. 

Famous copyright infringement cases

Let’s have a look at famous copyright infringement cases that show the variety of incidents and make the problem more tangible. 

The “JRR Token” copyright infringement case

Recently, the family estate of Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien brought a copyright infringement complaint to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) against the creator of a cryptocurrency token. The “JRR Token” used and made references to images and characters of the famous fantasy trilogy without permission. Soon after, the token was forced to stop operating and its creator closed the cryptocurrency’s website and its social media channels. 

The Apple GUI copyright infringement case

Back in 1988, Apple sued Microsoft for copyright infringement over the graphical user interface (GUI) and related licenses. At that time the description of GUI was an innovation that was contested between the two rivals. The legal dispute ended after six years with the denial of Apple’s petition from the Supreme Court. 

The “Harry Potter Dictionary” copyright infringement case

In 2007 a frenetic fan of the “Harry Potter” series, named Steven Vander Ark, wanted to publish a 400-page “Harry Potter” dictionary that was intended to accompany J.K. Rowling’s famous literary series. However, Rowling filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement against Vander Ark, saying the unofficial encyclopedia was too similar to the original literature. The court ruled in favor of Rowling because it found that Vander Ark copied too much of the author’s work and went beyond the scope of fair use. 

The Metallica vs Napster copyright infringement case

In one of the most famous copyright infringement cases that reshaped the music industry, Metallica sued the at the time popular music file-sharing platform Napster in 2000. Metallica sought a minimum of $10 million in damages, at a rate of $100,000 per illegally downloaded song. The band wasn’t granted the money but Napster was forced to terminate more than 230,000 accounts and shut down. 

How do Copyrights Protect a Business?

The Copyright Act of 1976 further clarified copyright protection: A copyright owner now has the exclusive right to reproduce the work; prepare spin-off works based on the copyrighted work; and to sell, perform and/or display the copyrighted work in public.

One of the nice things about copyrights is that securing such protection is fairly straightforward. Copyright protection is created the moment your work is fixed in a “tangible form of expression” (paper copy, CD, disk, videotaped performance, and the like) for the first time.

In other words, once your story is put in writing, your song is transcribed as sheet music or recorded, or your creative work is given some fixed form, your copyright is automatically secured. From that moment on (assuming creation occurred after January 1, 1978), your work has copyright protection for your lifetime, plus 50 years after your death.

It’s sometimes confusing as to exactly who is the owner of a work’s copyright protection. When just one author is involved, he or she can rightfully claim copyright. If the work was a collaborative effort between several authors, each author becomes a co-owner of the copyright.

Co-ownership means each author has the rights to the work–all owners would have to agree to sell their rights for someone to have exclusive ownership of the work. For this reason, it’s a good idea to have an agreement drawn up beforehand as to who will own the copyright. The term of copyright in a co-authorship situation is 50 years after the last surviving author’s death.

If the work was commissioned or created as part of the creator’s job, the employer is considered to be the author. After all, the author was paid for the work with wages. In this case, the term of copyright is calculated differently. If copies of the work are distributed to the public for sale, that first date of sale is called the publication date. The term of copyright protection is calculated as 75 years from the publication date or 100 years from the creation date; whichever is shorter.

Works on which you’re able to obtain a copyright fall into eight categories: literary works; musical works; dramatic works; pictorial, graphic and sculptural works; sound recordings; pantomimes and choreographic works; audiovisual works; and architectural works. These categories are interpreted very broadly. For example, software may be registered as a literary work; maps as pictorial, graphic and sculptural works; and a children’s slide as an architectural work.

On the flip side, several categories of material are not eligible for federal copyright protection. Works that have not been fixed as a copy aren’t eligible. Titles, names, short phrases and slogans aren’t eligible for copyright either because they’re covered under trademark protection. Mere listings, such as ingredients or phone numbers, are also ineligible.

Works that are nothing more than common property and contain no original authorship–such as standard calendars or rulers–can’t be protected by copyright. And works by the U.S. government aren’t eligible for copyright protection because they were paid for by taxpayers and thus are free for anyone’s use.

When you see the letter “C” enclosed in a circle, you’re being informed the work is declaring copyright privileges. This symbol used to be required under U.S. law but isn’t required today. Works created before March 1, 1989, when the requirement was lifted, must continue to display the notice in the proper format–for example: ©1999 John Doe.

Regardless, it’s generally considered a good idea to display the notice because it informs the public that the work is protected by copyright. If the work is infringed on and the copyright mark appears on the work, no weight will be given to a defendant’s argument that infringement was an innocent mistake.

Registering your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office isn’t a requirement for copyright protection. However, copyright laws provide several advantages to those copyright owners who take the time to register. A formal registration establishes a public record of your copyright claim. Should someone infringe on your copyright, in order to file an infringement lawsuit, your work must first be registered.

With a registered copyright, you’re entitled to claim not only actual damages, but statutory damages and attorneys’ fees as well. And registration will allow you to record your ownership with the U.S. Customs Service for protection against the importation of infringing copies. Registration of works may be done at any time within the life of the copyright.

How to Deal With Copyright Infringement 

Dealing with copyright infringements soaks up resources that can be better deployed elsewhere in your company. The good news is that there are actions you can take to prevent the repercussions of copyright infringement. In this section, we discuss preventive measures before we move on to talk about how to enforce your copyrights. 

Register your copyright 

Registering your copyright strengthens the ownership status of your work. Even if you think that there can’t be any doubts about the ownership of your work, you could be wrong. 

Copyright law provides automatic basic protection for creators, however, if you feel urged to take an infringement case to court, your copyright needs to be registered. In a legal dispute, the substantial similarity between the original work and the potential infringer has to be proven. Having the copyright officially registered serves as proof in court that the copyright holder is the owner of the respective work. 

In the US, copyrights can be registered at the U.S. Copyright Office. For the registration, you need to fill in an application form, provide a copy of your work and pay a registration fee.

Include a copyright symbol on your work

An easy way of showing other people that your work is copyright protected is by using a copyright notice. The notice includes three elements: 

  • The copyright symbol ©, the word “copyright,” or the abbreviation “copr”.
  • The year of first publication.
  • The name of the copyright owner.

You can include the copyright notice directly on your work. This can be your website or the platform where you publish your work for example. Another benefit of using a copyright symbol is when it comes to a copyright lawsuit. In that case, attempts by the defendant to reduce damages by claiming innocent infringement will be given no weight. 

Leave your contact information for reuse

The cheapest and simplest way of dealing with copyright infringements is by including your contact information so that people can reach out to you to ask for permission, instead of infringing on your copyrighted work.   

Publishing your work increases your visibility as a creator and attracts other people that want to reuse your work legitimately. Giving licenses to your work can benefit both the copyright owner and the person who is reusing your work. A copyright license authorizes a person or entity to use a work from the copyright owner and in exchange pays for it. 

Copyright licenses can be exclusive or nonexclusive and the rights that come with them depend on the terms of the agreement. Copyright holders can generate extra revenues by giving licenses to their work while remaining the owner of their rights.

If you consider giving copyright licenses to your work, it is recommended to register your copyright first. That way, there are no uncertainties over the ownership status of the work.

Add a watermark to visual work

A watermark is a graphic that can be added to photos or other visual work often in the form of white or transparent text. It informs others and potential copyright infringers that the work belongs to you. You can choose what information you want to include in the watermark, whether it be your personal name, your company’s name, or your logo. 

A watermark also prevents infringers from being able to claim that they didn’t know the work was copyrighted. If a copyright infringer removes a watermark from a visual work, they can be charged additional damages. Those damages apply even if the copyright was not registered before the infringement. 

Takedown copyright infringement

Taking protective measures to prevent copyright infringement is highly recommended for individual creators and brands. However, reality shows that even if you have those measures in place, it is still easy for infringers to steal your work and profit from it. Modern technology makes copying of products and information relatively easy and attractive for scammers. 

That does not at all mean that preventive actions are for nothing. Rather, they come to full force when combined with an efficient enforcement strategy. There is no need to panic when seeing an infringement of your work but you should take immediate action when you notice an incident. 

You can report copyright infringements manually or hire an attorney for legal advice. However, those single-case approaches have disadvantages when dealing with multiple or repeated infringements. Instead, you can work with a pure-play brand protection company like Red Points that safeguards your intellectual property at scale.  

How is Copyright a Valuable Asset in Business?

Businesses should be diligent with regard to identifying and protecting intellectual property assets, as they hold incredibly high value in today’s economic climate with reduced traffic to brick and mortar operations. The overall value of intellectual property though has been established well before the new coronavirus or COVID-19.

Although it’s an intangible asset, intellectual property can be far more valuable than a physical asset. It often provides a competitive advantage over other entities, making it particularly guarded and protected by those that own it.

An organization with intellectual property assets can assess its value in several different ways, the most common of which is by utilizing it internally or by sharing it externally through royalty rights. When valuing intellectual property, the owner must use measures to protect that value, including:


Copyrights are widely used and refer to a form of protection granted to the authors of original works of authorship, whether published or unpublished. A copyright protects a tangible form of expression – such as a book, written work, artwork, or music – rather than the actual idea or subject matter itself. Copyright protection exists the moment the work is created; however, copyright registration establishes a public record and provides for stronger enforcement against infringers under The Copyright Act of 1976.


Trademarks offer protection not only to brand names and logos, but also to phrases, symbols, smells, colors, tastes, and even distinctive product designs. Google, Apple, Starbucks, and Nike have some of the most recognizable and valuable trademarks today. Trademarks also refer to service marks used to identify services rather than goods.

While continued use can establish a trademark without federal registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, many benefits come with federal registration, such as a notice to the public of the trademark and exclusive nationwide rights.


Having a patent in place gives its owner the exclusive right to prevent others from making, using, selling, and/or importing or exporting the patented invention. To obtain a patent, an invention must be novel, useful and non-obvious. Compared to other types of intellectual property, patents are among the most valued and the most difficult to obtain.

Items that can be patented include objects or processes such as new technology or methods. Documentation from the applicant coupled with verification of originality by the United States Patent Trademark Office (USPTO) is required before the grant can occur; and, once granted, the patent is then typically valid for 20 years from the date of application. Once received, a patent owner has the option to grant licenses to others to use the item for a fee.

What does it Mean to Copyright a Business?

As we have mentioned above, a copyright  is a kind of legal protection that’s provided to artists, authors, and businesses as a means of allowing them to control their creative works. When your startup places a copyright on some marketing materials that you’ve created, you’ll have full control over the presentation, production, and distribution of these materials.

Read Also: Ethical Codes in Successful Companies

If anyone attempts to infringe on this copyright, it’s likely that you will have legal recourse to file a lawsuit against the individual or company in question. For the marketing materials, instruction manuals, or sales brochures that you create for your company, the copyright that you acquire will likely last for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. Since a copyright lasts for a lengthy period of time, you won’t need to worry about renewal.

Keep in mind that a copyright is aimed at protecting a form of expression as opposed to the actual subject matter of the expression. If you’ve created a product with your start, the copyright doesn’t provide legal protection to the product. Instead, it provides protection for all of the advertising, photographs, website content, and videos that you create for the product.

When you want to register a copyright, you must do so with the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress. It’s important to note that registration isn’t required in order for you to own a copyright. The initial creation of the original work is oftentimes enough to begin ownership. However, a copyright will provide you with more security and protection for the work.

When you wish to copyright a creative work belonging to your company, you can apply at the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress via an online registration or a hard-copy registration that you send through the mail. The standard processing time for an electronic registration is around three months.

On the other hand, the average processing time for a hard-copy is upwards of 10 months, which is why it’s highly recommended that you apply online. Make sure that you fill out the application correctly if you want the process to be completed quickly. As mentioned earlier, a copyright is meant to last for the life of the author plus 70 years, which means it won’t need to be renewed in your lifetime.

If you find that a person or company has infringed upon your copyright, you will have the ability to open litigation by bringing a copyright infringement lawsuit to federal court. In order for your lawsuit to be effective, it’s important that you can prove that your creative work was copied wholesale or that the main elements of the work were used by someone else. Copyright registration is not necessary for you to be able to bring a lawsuit to court.

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