Today, we’re tackling a few benefits of registering your copyrightable works.
1. Register Early and You Also Protect Your Pocketbook.
Here’s where breweries can potentially save thousands, and gain enough negotiating power to hopefully avoid court in the first place. When you register a copyright within a certain three-month period, there are two extra remedies available in the event you ever need to stop an infringer.
First, there’s the the option of collecting statutory damages. This means that if someone misuses a brewery’s intellectual property, even if the infringer didn’t make a lot of money doing so or even if the brewery didn’t lose a lot of money because of it, the court must order the infringer to pay at least $750 and as much as $30,000 just for infringing the work. If there’s enough proof they did it willfully, the court can bump up that award to as much as $150,000 per work. Ever wonder why those music-label piracy/download cases sometimes involve millions of dollars? You can see how quickly infringement of ten or twenty songs adds up.
Second, by registering within that three-month timeframe, the brewery earns the right to collect attorney fees in court. In other words, if someone infringes your work, it goes to court, and you win, the other side will be ordered to pay your lawyer.
2. If You Ever Need to Sue, You Have to Anyway.
Although copyrightable work is automatically protected, it’s worth noting that if someone ever needs to stop an infringer, registration is a prerequisite for doing so. Might as well register early and have available the benefits noted above.
3. It’s Just More Protection
Registering beefs up and solidifies rights, strengthening claims against would-be infringers. An often overlooked registration right involves US Customs. (This right also flows with federal trademark registration, so if you’ve been on the fence about trademarking things, listen up, too.) Registering lets you seek extra protection from the US Customs and Border Patrol, who can inspect imports to enforce your rights. You can see how this would be incredibly valuable to big brands like Guinness, dealing with knock-off merch and whatnot. And, it seems our Department of Homeland Security is dang good at the job, too.
The Bottom Line
Sometimes, the lawyerly “belt and suspenders” approach to risk can get in the way of business, but in matters of Copyright, asking your lawyer to help you take these extra protective steps can be well worth it.