Friday, November 27, 2009

Copyrights: Online Copyright Application Tips

The U.S. Copyright Office ("USCO") may have implemented an online copyright application system a little more than a year ago, but there are still some serious bugs in the system that need to be worked out. Here are a few important tips to keep in mind when filing a copyright application online: print out and keep hard copies of (1) your copyright application; (2) the application filing receipt you receive by email from USCO after you file your application; (3) the fee payment receipt you receive from USCO; and the deposit specimen receipt you receive from USCO. Keep all the hard copies in a safe and easy-to-locate place until you receive your actual registration certificate. Why? Because it will probably take USCO anywhere from 12-18 months to process your application and issue the actual Copyright Registration Certificate. In the meantime you may need your complete copyright application package if you need to prove to anyone - including a court - when you filed your application and that you filed everything properly. Along those lines, be sure to keep an exact copy of the work (screenplay, novel, computer program, illustrations, etc.) you submitted to USCO with your copyright application. The reason: since authors and creators often develop different versions of the original work, it is vitally important to be able to prove exactly what version of your work you submitted with your copyright application.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Report From the Intellectual Property Front Lines

Having just returned from the three-day annual Intellectual Property Law Institute sponsored by the State Bar of California, we are still processing what we heard. As you might imagine, the odd combination of the ongoing growth of technology and the recession continues to create new intellectual property legal issues that simply did not exist ten years ago. We plan to provide more in-depth reports about the IP Institute in the days to come, but here is a short list of some of this year's highlights:
* Trademark and domain name disputes are continuing to explode and the landscape will only get more challenging for brand owners as the number and variety of top level domain names (.com, .net, .org, etc.) expand almost geometrically;
* Although the U.S. Copyright Office's efforts to implement an online copyright registration system have been well-intentioned, the Copyright Office is seriously underfunded and the online registration system is slower than the previous hard paper-only procedure;
* As the cost and difficulty of enforcing patents increases, so does the importance and value of using trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets to protect and exploit your brands, content and inventions; and
* In what may be more than just a nod to the explosion of social media/networking, Facebook's former privacy chief who is running for California Attorney General delivered one of the Institute's keynote addresses.

More to follow in the days to come; stay tuned.