In its March 4, 2019, opinion in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation v. Wall-Street.com, the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled that copyright owners must wait for copyright registration before pursuing lawsuits against accused infringers. Under the Copyright Act of 1976, copyright protection attaches to “original works of authorship,” such as literary, musical or dramatic works as soon as they are fixed in any tangible medium of expression. Thus, for example, once a novelist prepares a handwritten draft of her work, she immediately gains exclusive copyrights to that work.
Anyone from individuals to companies of all sizes may have a range of intellectual property (“IP”) considerations. Even where you do not specifically intend to create intellectual property, you and/or your company may have protectable rights or interests to consider. You should also be wary of the possibility that you may be using and even unintentionally infringing the intellectual property of others. From trademarks to copyrights to patents to trade secrets, it is important to understand each distinct category of intellectual property as well as the respective protections and limitations that surround them.
Therefore, the goal here is to provide a general baseline of understanding of the different types of intellectual property and help you to begin to identify and understand your property as well as the relevant rights, protections, and risks. Subsequently, you will likely find it worthwhile to further explore certain categories in detail.
To read the full article that was published in the NH High Tech Council’s newsletter, please click here.