Business Owners Beware

Catch Your Copyrights!

IP rights have never been more valuable. A well-managed IP portfolio can be worth one third or more of the total value of your business. Unfortunately, most businesses treat IP as an afterthought. Even if you don’t, you can still lose valuable rights by falling into one of these traps.

Over three consecutive posts, I will discuss traps for patentstrademarks and copyrights.

Copyrights are everywhere in business: articles, blogs, brochures, catalogues, images, websites, software, manuals, marketing materials, and more. They last for the life of the author plus 70 years, and for businesses, 95 years from the date of publication, or 120 years from creation, whichever comes first.

Copyright Traps

The trap is the deadline to be eligible for statutory damages. Statutory damages are $750 to $30,000 per infringement, up to $150,000 for willful infringement, plus attorney fees, at the discretion of the judge. But to be eligible to receive these damages, you must register your copyright within three months of publishing your work or before the work is infringed.

Statutory damages can be very valuable. Because there is no requirement to prove actual damages, this is a protection you do not want to just give away. The ability to assert statutory damages in a cease-and-desist letter is very effective. An infringer facing the potential of statutory damages is highly motivated to stop the infringement and will likely pay a negotiated settlement for the infringement.

Registering your copyrights in your works is relatively easy. There are forms on the US Copyright Office website. You can complete the form and upload your work online. For photographs, you can register up to 750 as a group registration.

The Takeaway

Register your important copyrights. They can be extremely valuable. Registering them gives you important rights, one of which is statutory damages.


Bill Honaker, The IP Guy

About the Author:

Bill Honaker, “The IP Guy” is a former USPTO Examiner, a partner with Dickinson-Wright, and author of the forthcoming book, Invisible Assets – How to Maximize the Hidden Value in Your Business. To download a sample chapter, click here.

To get answers to your questions click here. To schedule a time to talk, you can access my calendar by clicking here, email, or call me at 248-433-7381.

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