Swerve members and newcomers gathered on April 21st as Harris Henderson, IP attorney at Kilpatrick Townsend, shared information about copyright and trademark law. Creatives from many disciplines gathered to learn the process for protecting their works, and posed lively questions for the speaker. In the interactive segment, participants worked in small groups to create a sample contract for a potential creative team producing work for an NFL expansion team.
Henderson first addressed trademark law explaining, “the more information a trademark conveys about the associated goods or services, the less useful it is as a trademark.” He emphasized that although trademark registrations are not required in the US (because rights arise from use in the marketplace), they are important as it relates to your identity as creatives. “Trademarks are symbols in the marketplace of your goodwill and reputation.” He also clarified the proper use of trademarks and symbols, ® and ™, and the legal significance of their use.
Henderson then delved into the basics of copyright law and explored the terms “Public Domain” and “Fair Use”. He explained that copyright does not protect anything that is not original, authored, and fixed. This includes ideas, procedures, processes, systems, methods, concepts, principles, or discoveries. He provided clear examples of each category; original work, authorship, and fixation:
- Literary, musical, and dramatic works
- Pantomimes and choreographic works
- Pictorial, graphic and sculptural works
- Motion pictures/ audiovisual works
- Sound recordings
- Architectural works
Author = Ownership
Generally speaking, the owner of a creative work is the author of the work. But the work for hire doctrine presents some exceptions that are not always clear because when a work is created by an employee, the employer is likely to own the copyright interest in the work (as long as it is within the scope of his or her employment). Determining when/if someone is acting as an employee within the ordinary scope of his/her employment is not always easy.
When works are fixed it means it is permanently in a state where it can be “perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated for a period of more than transitory duration.” Henderson explained that “the copyright in a work comes into existence upon fixation of the work.”
-Literary works are fixed when written on paper or stored on a computer’s hard drive.
-Music and performances are fixed when recorded.
Harris was generous in answering participant’s questions, and most people realized they had work to do to shore up their intellectual property.
Don’t miss out on all the benefits that Swerve has to offer! Visit SwerveTriad.com to get more information, learn how you can get involved, attend, and become a member.
The next meetup, Mentorship for Success, will be held on May 19th with guest speaker Chad Cheek, President of Elephant in the Room.