Too many small business owners assume that just because something is on the internet, it must be free to use. For example, have you ever:
In each of these instances, your business is likely to receive a nasty cease and desist letter accusing you of copyright infringement and demanding the immediate payment of money damages.
A licensing agreement is a contract in which you, the licensor, gives someone else, the licensee, permission to do something that they otherwise would not have the right to do. There are many situations in which a small business might use a licensing agreement:
While licensing agreements need to be customized to fit your particular business situation, there are some common terms that most licensing agreements should address.
Over the lifespan of a small business, you may find yourself needing to sell or transfer intellectual property rights. There are a variety of situations where this might come up:
Even though intellectual property rights are intangible, they can still be sold or transferred much like any other business asset. This week, we look at how to transfer ownership of these assets. Except for name changes, we first need an agreement between the parties describing the terms of the sale or transfer. Then, we need to record the assignment of the intellectual property rights in the appropriate office.
(Note: Licensing intellectual property is not the same as transferring ownership. Licensing deals with a temporary right to use intellectual property, not a change in the underlying ownership.)
The bundle of rights associated with the concept of “copyright” exists from the moment a work is created in a fixed form. However, those rights generally belong to the creator or author of the work. So what happens when that author is someone you are paying to create the work for you, your business, or non-profit?
Enter the concept of “works made for hire.” If a work meets the legal requirements to be considered a work made for hire, then the employer will be considered the author of the work even if an individual employee was actually the original creator.
What are the legal requirements for works made for hire?
"Just because you call it a 'work made for hire' doesn't make it so."
We’ve previously discussed protecting your brand by registering and enforcing your trademarks. But what about the unique content you create? Enter copyright law. Copyright protects “original works of authorship.” This can be anything from written works like books and articles, to musical and artistic creations, even computer programs and architectural plans. Copyright is an important area of law, not just for creatives, but any entrepreneur who creates content or uses content created by someone else.
Just what does copyright protect? And why should you register your copyrights?