Copyright Practice & Services
Copyright law protects original works of art including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. Ostrolenk has a long history in working with clients to evaluate their copyright rights to determine issues such as validity, ownership and title, the duration of copyright, infringement and fair use. We also provide advice on a broad range of complicated copyright issues such as preemption, the safe harbors provided by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, moral rights and the First Amendment. Our attorneys counsel clients about copyrights in a wide variety of fields including advertising, apparel, artwork, carpets, computer software, e-commerce, entertainment, jewelry, photographs, sculptures, toys and games.
We conduct due diligence inquiries and also draft copyright related agreements including assignments, security interests, work-for-hire agreements, permissions and releases. We also record security interests against copyright registrations in the U.S. Copyright Office.
Computer Database Searching
The U.S. Copyright Office has an online computer database usable for making short, simple searches. The database is searchable by author, title, claimant, and registration number. Our copyright attorneys are experienced in searching the database and in providing advice to our clients based upon the results.
Full Copyright Searching
The online computer database of the U.S. Copyright Office, though useful, is limited in its functionality. Furthermore, it covers records and ownership documents available since only 1978. Consequently, it is advisable at times to have us undertake a formal copyright availability or title search obtained from a professional research company. The search may be used to determine the current ownership and status of a particular creative work such as a movie, television show, literary work or song.
Registration, though not a prerequisite for obtaining copyright protection under U.S. law, confers many valuable benefits. These include making statutory damages available, providing federal court jurisdiction over infringements, and allowing recordation with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Registration may be accomplished for individual works and, where appropriate, and to reduce filing costs, as a collection of works. We handle copyright filings for our clients both on a one-time only basis and as part of regular copyright filing programs. As part of the registration process, we also advise our clients on issues relating to, among other things, the proper use of copyright notice and the deposit requirements of the U.S. Copyright Office.
Examiners in the U.S. Copyright Office may raise objections to registration. These range from minor technical objections like requiring additional deposit material to substantive refusals such as a lack of originality. We timely report such objections to our clients and work with them on the most cost-effective way to respond by complying with any technical requirements or by filing a request for reconsideration and, where necessary, an appeal.
Copyright recordation with U.S. Customs and Border Protection provides protection against the unauthorized importation of infringing goods. Our attorneys work with clients on recording their registered copyrights with Customs. When Customs detains or seizes suspect goods, we work with Customs on obtaining proper disposition of the goods.
Pre-Litigation Investigation and Enforcement Efforts
When a third party is suspected of infringing copyright rights owned by one of our clients, we conduct any necessary investigation to gather additional facts. This often involves using an outside professional investigator, who provides a written investigation report. Based upon the facts supplied, where warranted, we frequently prepare and send the suspected infringer a cease-and-desist letter to obtain voluntary cooperation with our client’s demands.
When the infringer fails to cooperate, and litigation is unavoidable, we bring an enforcement action for copyright infringement in federal court. Where our client does not yet own a registration for its copyright, prior to commencing suit, we file an expedited application to quickly secure the necessary registration. Our representation spans the many different stages of litigation from applications for temporary restraining orders, preliminary injunctions, seizures, declaratory judgment proceedings, motions for dismissal and summary judgment, pre-trial motions, trials and appeals. It also involves litigating disputes in areas related to copyright law such as idea misappropriation, rights of privacy and publicity, defamation and libel. We also vigorously defend our clients in copyright actions when brought by others.
Litigation can often be an expensive and time consuming process. As a result, most cases settle before trial. Our litigation attorneys are experienced in knowing where and when to settle copyright disputes. We are also highly experienced in negotiating and drafting the settlement agreements and consent judgments typically entered into at the end of a copyright litigation.
Copyright License Agreements
We represent both licensors and licensees in negotiating and drafting licenses and related agreements. From character merchandising agreements to shrink wrap agreements to click through licenses, our copyright attorneys are knowledgeable about copyright licensing and able to effectively represent out clients with a practical and business-minded approach to negotiating and drafting their agreements.
The internet is rife with instances of copyright infringement. The digital medium of the world wide web allows the near instant and clear reproduction and transmission of copyrighted works, all without the authorization of the copyright owner. We can monitor the internet for such infringements and order a formal report from an outside professional search company to uncover potentially infringing designs used across the internet.
International Copyright Services
Copyright is a worldwide practice. However, the laws vary from country to country. Our sophisticated copyright attorneys advise our clients in developing and implementing international protection strategies. We utilize an extensive network of foreign associates, located across the globe, who assist us in locally protecting copyright rights on behalf of our clients.