Copyright protection is created by statute. Its power is derived from the United States Constitution granting to Congress the ability to protect and “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” U.S. Const. Art. I, §8, cl. 8. Over time, Congress has expanded the subject matter of protected writings to include photographs, music, videos, software, semiconductor chips, choreography and other kinds of works. In 1998, Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to help strengthen copyright protection in the digital age.
Copyright protection extends to music and live performances, dramatic works like film, television, broadcasts & satellite transmissions, literary works, visual arts and computer programs. The Contiguglia Law Firm, P.C. can assist you in the protection of your copyrightable works with the United States Copyright Office.
Copyright Litigation and Disputes
In some situations, an artist must protect their copyright interests in the words he / she has created. In other instances, individuals are wrongfully accused of copyright infringement and must defend their actions. Sometimes, disputes arise between business partners or co-authors and dispute resolution is required to help adequately and accurately define each person’s copyright interest.
Copyright litigation consists of the legal and factual arguments made to a judge or a jury to ascertain one’s rights to copyrighted materials. These actions can seek monetary damages as a result of the infringement, or they can consist of seeking a declaratory judgment from the court requesting a finding of non-infringement.
Every person who considers commencing litigation in a copyright action should consider several factors. Primarily, each individual should evaluate whether they have a valid copyright registration and copies of the applicable paperwork. Investigation should be done to determine the extent of any infringement and the extent of the evidence available to proceed to court. The Contiguglia Law Firm, P.C. can help you prosecute or defend your copyright claims.
The Business of Copyright
Let’s face it! They whole reason people copyright their works isn’t always for protection. It’s to make money. Owning copyrighted work allows you to enter into business transactions to exploit your copyrighted materials on your own terms and to make some money from those deals. Copyright ownership has always been described as a “bundle of sticks” allowing the owner to sell individual sticks or the whole bunch to suit their individual needs. Licensing agreements or sales of copyright owned materials can be finalized into business deals. Businesses going through mergers, acquisitions or asset purchases might have copyrighted materials to be transferred (or not transferred) as part of the transaction.
The Contiguglia Law Firm, P.C. has extensive experience in managing business deals and protecting artists copyrights throughout the transaction.
According to the United States Patent and Trademark office, a trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. A service mark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods. The term “trademark” is often used to refer to both trademarks and service marks.
Under some circumstances, trademark protection can extend beyond words, symbols, and phrases to include other aspects of a product, such as its color or its packaging. Such features fall generally under the term “trade dress,” and may be protected if consumers associate that feature with a particular manufacturer rather than the product in general.
In order to serve as a trademark, a mark must be distinctive. It must be capable of identifying the source of a particular good. In determining whether a mark is distinctive, the courts group marks into four categories, based on the relationship between the mark and the underlying product: (1) arbitrary or fanciful, (2) suggestive, (3) descriptive, or (4) generic. Because the marks in each of these categories vary with respect to their distinctiveness, the requirements for, and degree of, legal protection afforded a particular trademark will depend upon which category it falls within.
An arbitrary or fanciful mark is a mark that bears no logical relationship to the underlying product. Arbitrary or fanciful marks are inherently distinctive because they are capable of identifying an underlying product. Thus, they are given a high degree of protection.
A suggestive mark is a mark that evokes or suggests a characteristic of the underlying good. Like arbitrary or fanciful marks, suggestive marks are inherently distinctive and are given a high degree of protection.
A descriptive mark is a mark that directly describes, rather than suggests, a characteristic or quality of the underlying product.Descriptive marks are not inherently distinctive and are protected only if they have acquired “secondary meaning.” A descriptive mark acquires secondary meaning when the consuming public primarily associates that mark with a particular producer, rather than the underlying product.
Finally, a generic mark is a mark that describes the general category to which the underlying product belongs. Generic terms are not protected by trademark law because they are simply too useful for identifying a particular product.