How Do I Register a Copyright?

How Do I Register a Copyright?

Copyright, Copyright Infringement
While U.S. trademark registration takes up the bulk of our Phoenix intellectual property law practice, lately my office is seeing more and more interest in copyright registration lately.  A common question I get from current and potential clients is, how much does it actually cost to register a copyright? What does it even mean to "copyright" something anyway? Before I answer the question posed in the title, it's usually helpful to clear up some what it means to "copyright" something, whether it's a poem, drawing, song, video you uploaded to YouTube or whatever. Frankly, when someone says they want to "copyright" something, the phrase is basically meaningless from the legal standpoint. An owner's copyright (i.e., the exclusive right to display, reproduce, perform, etc.) in a work they've created attaches as…
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Is Customized Software a ‘Work Made for Hire’?

Is Customized Software a ‘Work Made for Hire’?

Contracts, Copyright, Employment Agreements, Independent Contractor
Your company just hired someone to help develop your new mobile app. Your agreement with this programmer or engineer specifically states that anything she creates for your business is a "work made for hire". Your business is good, right? No way that the new hire can ever lay claim to the deliverables, correct? In my Phoenix startup and technology law practice, I get this question a lot as it pertains to software and app development.   Unfortunately, the term "work made for hire" (or, more colloquially, "work for hire") is a term as misunderstood by companies as it is misused. The "Work Made for Hire" Doctrine Explained Generally speaking, a work that is copyrightable is the sole property of the person who created it (and assuming the author has not transferred…
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Yes, Your Website Needs a DMCA Agent. Here’s Why.

Yes, Your Website Needs a DMCA Agent. Here’s Why.

Copyright, Copyright Infringement
As a Phoenix business law firm focusing in tech and e-commerce, I often see website owners who have designated a DMCA agent in their Terms of Use but have done little else beyond that. This could be a serious (if not costly) oversight. In this article, I'll explain why. What is The DMCA? The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (“DMCA“) is a federal law that deals with the protection of copyrighted materials online. In addition to affording protection to the copyright owner through a formal process by which the owner may assert their rights over media and have copyrighted material removed from websites and other online providers quickly, the DMCA provides protection to those websites and mobile apps that allow (and in many cases rely upon) user-generated content. However,…
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Intellectual Property Protection for Secret Recipes

Intellectual Property Protection for Secret Recipes

Copyright, Craft Brewing, Intellectual Property, Restaurants, Trademark
As a Phoenix business lawyer that represents more than a few clients in the food industry, I'm often asked by restauranteurs, craft brewers, and aspiring sauce/dressing tycoons how to best protect their secret recipe for...well, you name it.  As with most things in the law, the answer is rarely one-size-fits-all and depends on a variety of factors and the client's objectives and business strategy.  This article summarizes a few of the most common questions I'm asked on the subject, as well as my general answers: Why not patent my recipe? Patent laws are commonly used to protect inventions and processes and usually are not the best approach for protecting your secret recipe. First off, as there are really only so many ways you can formulate spaghetti sauce or brew a…
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Cupcake War: FoodNetwork Sued over Popular Snow Globe Cupcake Video

Cupcake War: FoodNetwork Sued over Popular Snow Globe Cupcake Video

Copyright, Copyright Infringement, Popular Culture
With the holidays already approaching, things might be get a little too hot in the kitchen for Food Network, which has been sued for copyright infringement by a woman claiming the network stole her idea and techniques for creating snow globe cupcakes, as demonstrated in her how-to video on SugarHero.com. Last year, Elizabeth LaBau posted how-to-video on YouTube showing viewers how to use gelatin sheets and water balloons to transform the basic cupcake into a highly creative (and pretty cool looking) holiday treat. However, only a few weeks later, LaBau alleges that the Food Network uploaded a competing video on the network’s Facebook page, which she claims is essentially an unauthorized and uncredited reproduction of her original cupcake video. I’ve often been asked whether or not a particular favorite or…
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