Is Your Intellectual Property Protected?By: Susan Dunn
The other day I had quite a shock. A student who was taking one of my Internet courses e-mailed me to tell me that it was so beneficial “I emailed copies to all my friends and family.” Thereby circumventing my $29.99 per course, and violating my copyright.
I also market coaches. I design websites, including search engine optimization. In doing some work for a client, I discovered suddenly someone had overtaken them on the search engine. When I checked, it turned out they had completely copied the source codes I’d done, keywords and all. Not one word was changed.
Another client was checking out the competition on the web one day – he cuts plastics – and found someone had copied his entire entry page, just changing the logo and company name where needed. Same photos, same placement, same ad copy, same menu buttons …
Time to Check with Your Attorney Abour Your Intellectual Property Rights?
Check with your attorney, because it’s confusing. Even being a certified paralegal, I find intellectual property law daunting.
According to the Cornell Law School website, “under current law, works are covered whether or not a copyright is attached and whether or not the work is registered.” (This means registered with the US Copyright Office.)
However, the American Intellectual Property Lawyers Association [AIPLA] says the “registration … is not required for existence of copyright; however, it is a prerequisite to a lawsuit for copyright infringement and to certain legal remedies.” [Source: www.aipla.org/Content/ContentGroups/Publications1/Publications_available_for_viewing1/What_is_a_Patent_and_Trademark.htm] They recommend you have a specialist draft the document.
Does that mean you should get one? Is a © of any use if it doesn’t allow you “remedies”? I refer clients to an attorney.
To get an official copyright, you can apply directly to the US Copyright office - www.copyright.gov/register. Here are a few of the things they list as being copyright-able:
Registration becomes effective on the day they receive your application, and the official Certificate of Registration will come 4-5 months later (hold your tongue!)
There are also commercial sites you can register through. Here are three:
Do you know the difference between a copyright and a trademark? You’ll find a good review here from the AILPA: www.aipla.org/Content/ContentGroups/Publications1/Publications_available_for_viewing1/What_is_a_Patent_and_Trademark.htm .
Also on their website you’ll find some educational materials, such as “How to Protect and Benefit from Your Ideas” - (http://www.aipla.org/Template.cfm?section=About_AIPLA).
Apparently you will also receive something to place (a logo type thing) on your website more imposing than a ©.
Check with your attorney for legal advice, please.
© copyright, Susan Dunn, 2004
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