Every Business has Copyrights That May Be Worth Millions

Copyright Trap

Many business owners don’t know they have this valuable asset.

Copyrights aren’t only for books, movies, and music. They’re also for everyday business content. As the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals recently commented, the United States Copyright Laws protect “even the dull and workaday”. In the case of Premier v Allegiance, the smart business owner registered his copyright in his enrollment forms and was awarded over $1 million after they were copied by a competitor.

Your business has creative content that should be protected by copyrighted. Listed here are a few examples of business related copyrights.

  • Brochures
  • White papers
  • Blogs
  • Videos
  • Product pictures
  • Instruction manuals
  • Assembly instructions
  • HR manuals
  • Website content
  • RFP Responses
  • Bid materials
  • Computer programs

A recent case between two Ohio companies shows the value of copyrights in business. Premier and Allegiance manage car dealer loyalty programs. These are used to service cars sold by dealers. Buyers are enrolled by completing a Loyalty Certificate which requires the entry of information and contains the terms and conditions of the program. Allegiance incorporated Premier’s Lifetime Powertrain Loyalty Program certificates into its business and Premier sued them for copyright infringement.

The District Court found infringement and awarded Premier $441,239 of Allegiance’s profits and enjoined Allegiance from infringing the copyright. The court also awarded Premier $577,736 in attorney’s fees.

As the District Court Judge reasoned the certificate’s “dull” subject matter did not preclude it from being original or from otherwise obtaining copyright protection.

The Court of Appeals agreed and affirmed the decision. The Court’s comment is very instructive for business-related copyrights.

“But the long-accepted policy of the copyright laws is that they protect all manner of works—mundane and lofty, commercial and non-commercial, even the dull and workaday—so long as they satisfy the modest imperatives of originality.”

The Takeaway

Your business has copyrights. You need to review what you have and decide what is valuable to your business. Once you decide, get protection by registering them with the United States Copyright Office.  If they are valuable to your business, they are likely valuable to your competition. Some competitors may decide to take a short cut, like Allegiance, and copy your creativity. If you have taken the steps necessary to protect what you have, you can be awarded your competitors’ profits, your legal fees and put a stop to the copying.

Give me a call if you would like help reviewing what you have and what should be protected. Waiting can result in the loss of important rights, so give me a call now while it’s top of mind.

Bill Honaker
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 Bill@IPGuy.com, or call me at 248-433-7381.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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