Why Registering Your Copyright Is A Good Idea
When you create any kind of intellectual property, it is yours from the moment of creation. Just like that, your poem, painting, song, character, or novel is yours, and nobody else can take it, claim it as their own, sell it, or even make some kind of work derived from it.
Except there’s one problem. If someone does steal your work, how do you enforce it? How do you prove it’s yours and get damages for any profits someone else made off of your wrongfully copied work? Or worse-what happens if someone else comes along and says that you took or stole their work?
Registration of Your Intellectual Property
The answer to many of these questions is registration of your copyrights with the United States Patent and Trademark office (USPTO). Although you do own your copyrights (and other intellectual property, such as trademarks, copyrights or patents) without registering them, you don’t have the right to enforce your copyrights without registration.
Although registering your copyright does not conclusively prove it’s yours—someone can still come along and challenge you—the registration will mean that a court will assume the work is yours. You don’t have to prove it. This means that someone else, who thinks that you infringed or stole the work, will have to prove that you don’t own it.
But perhaps the biggest advantage to registration of a copyright is the ability to sue and receive damages and attorneys fees even without proof of damages.
This is helpful, because many times when someone steals or infringes on intellectual property such as a copyright, it can be difficult to prove what the person made off of the stolen or misappropriated work.
For example, assume you design a character, who we’ll call Felix. Felix is a goofy animated sloth with cartoon sad eyes. Someone else comes along, and they create a character that looks almost exactly like your Felix, but their Felix does lewd and offensive things. Your character’s “reputation” is being ruined—the value of your wholesome made-for-kids character Felix has been reduced, because the public doesn’t know the difference between the two Felixes.
But how do you prove what damage that cost you? How do you show lost sales? Or that the damage to the way the public perceives your character, has cost you money because of the infringement? You may not be able to.
And if the person who infringed made little or nothing off their “obscene Felix,” there may not even be enough money to make it worth suing.
But with registration, you would get damages awarded by statute—even if you can’t prove exact damages. The law awards you significant damages, just by showing the theft or infringement. Plus, you can be awarded attorneys fees, making it easier to find a good copyright attorney to take your case.
Call the West Palm Beach copyright litigation lawyers at Pike & Lustig for help if you have a copyright of intellectual property infringement problem.