One question that someone always asks me is, "Why should I register my trademarks or copyrights?"
Many people do not like the expense of registration. I ask if it's too expensive to not register.
There are a few reasons for registering.
1. Public notice. In both a trademark and a copyright registration certificate, the owner of the intellectual property is listed. Trademark certificates are filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Copyright certificates are filed with the Library of Congress.
2. Public descriptions. In a trademark certificate, the goods and services are listed. In a copyright certificate, a brief description of the work is filed, along with two copies of the work itself. The owner of the intellectual property is also listed.
3. Geography. All registrations are good in all fifty states and all territories of the United States.
4. Barriers to lawsuits. If a trademark is not registered, it is considered a common law trademark. The goods/services and geography of the mark must be argued in court if there is infringement. No infringement lawsuit can be filed on a copyright that is not registered. Should there be infringement before registration of a copyright, the copyright owner loses damages (statutory damages up to $150,000 and attorney's fees) and is only allowed to collect actual damages for the copyright infringement.
5. The power of federal law to help with damages in any intellectual property lawsuit comes only with registration.
6. Ease of cataloging. This is a thought that not many people have. If a mark or work is registered, then there is a number. Should the mark or work be sold or licensed, then it is easy to state in a contract what the number is and what the property is.
One example is a store that creates its own jewelery and sells it. The jeweler needs to register the copyrights in all the jewelery, as it probably will qualify for a trademark. Using the reasons above, the importance of registering any intellectual property (such as each piece of jewelery) becomes clear.
Anthony M. Verna III, Esq.
Law Firm of Anthony Verna
14 Wall Street, 20th Floor
New York, NY 10005
(C) 2009, Anthony M. Verna III, Esq.
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