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The Yau Law Firm
Focused on Protecting Businesses and Representing the Injured

Copyrights: Intellectual Property Audits, Part 2 of 4

Welcome back to the Intellectual Property Audits, part 2 of 4.  Our next section is copyrights.  Here are a few tips for the IP audit process related to protecting the expression of creativity.

Who owns a copyright in the work-place setting?  Answer:  Employers instantly own the copyrights to works created by their employees within the scope of their employment, per U.S copyright laws.  Independent contractors are a different story.  If your company hires an independent contractor to prepare art work, participate in sound recording, or write a manuscript, the client does not own the copyright to the work unless there is a written copyright assignment between the author/artist and the client.

Service agreements between the client and outside firms should include a copyright assignment provision so that the client will own the copyright to any works generated as a result of the engagement.   This is the best way to secure ownership of the work created through the contract.

During the course of the audit, working with the client to determine any works needing a copyright would be the best place to start.  You must also figure out if they are ready to have an application filed or not.  For items that are frequently updated like software or websites, clients should file an updated copyright application once a year.  If the infringement happens before registration, recourse for the client could be difficult to seek.

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