Businesses often use words, phrases, and images, i.e., their “marks”, associated with their goods and services, particularly in advertising, labeling and branding in connection with their products and services. There are several benefits for businesses in registering their “marks” under the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. §§ 101, et seq. (the “Copyright Act”), including the protection against others copying and using their “marks.” This protection extends to several categories of original works of authorship, including: literary works; musical works; pictorial, graphic and sculptural works; architectural works; and motion pictures and other audiovisual works. 17 U.S.C. § 102. Because a civil action for infringement cannot be brought unless the “mark” has been preregistered or registered under the Copyright Act, it is essential for business to enforce their rights in their “marks” by registering those “marks” under the Copyright Act. 17 U.S.C. § 411(a).
Another significant advantage to registering a “mark” under the Copyright Act is that an infringer is liable for “the copyright owner’s actual damages and any additional profits the infringer” or statutory damages. 17 U.S.C. § 504(a). In particular, a “copyright owner may elect . . . to recover, instead of actual damages, an award of statutory damages for all infringements involved in the action, with respect to any one work, for which any one infringer is liable.” 17 U.S.C. § 504(c)(1). Depending on whether the infringement is willful or innocent, the stator damages for infringement can reach $150,000. 17 U.S.C. § 504(c)(2). It is important that businesses act quickly to register their copyrights in their “marks” under the Copyright Act, especially where a copyright owner can only recover the above statutory damages and attorney fees for infringement of its “marks” that have been registered prior to the acts of infringement. 17 U.S.C. § 412(1).
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If you are interested in learning how to protect your rights in your “marks,” contact us online or call our office today. Toll Free: 1 (855) TISH-LAW.