This article looks at copyright and considerations that come into play when it comes to international trade and entering new markets.
Copyright is a form of intellectual property right, which protects novel and original creative works. Copyright comes into existence at the point that one of these creative works is produced and is an automatic right. What this means is that in most cases copyright works do not need to be registered for the copyright owner to claim their rights over the work.
Copyright ownership grants the individual certain rights over the work. These are split under two main headings. The first are moral rights which are retained by the creator of the work, even should copyright ownership be transferred. These typically grant the creator:
In addition to this the copyright owner has the capability to assert economic rights from their works. This gives the copyright owner the opportunity to make commercial gain from the works by licensing them to others, or indeed by selling the rights. In addition to this the copyright owner has the exclusive right to authorise or prohibit:
Within businesses, employees who create copyright works automatically cede the economic right over the work to the employer – if it is created within the bounds of their normal working duties. Notably, freelancers retain economic rights over their creations in law, unless an assignment of copyright or intellectual property is put in place.
Throughout the course of operating, businesses create copyright works in several ways, perhaps without even knowing it. Creative works can include things such as: websites, databases, business plans, written material, client lists, marketing plans, images, videos, audio – and much more. This intellectual property belongs to the business and should be considered a key asset within the business which should be actively valued and protected.
Some steps that a business can do in relation to their copyright includes:
Internationally, copyright is, for the most part, covered worldwide by harmonisation in international laws. Specifically, something known as the Berne Convention. This means that countries will typically cooperate with each other in copyright cases that happen internationally. However, there are some things that you will want to keep in mind when deploying copyright assets internationally.
A management consultancy business is setting up new offices and operations in Europe, the USA and China. In the US and China, they are partnering with existing companies and licensing these companies their brand. In doing so they share with the US and Chinese companies a host of information, including: training materials, lists of target businesses and contacts in the region and operations documents.
In China, a range of agreements are place with the licensed partners. As such, new IP created in the course of the new venture is fed back into the business and all copyright materials are held within the business effectively. In the US fewer agreements have been put in place. After some time, a competing business emerges from an ex-employee of the licensor’s entity. This emulates many of the strategies of the business, targeting similar clients and making use of similar methods. A copyright dispute arises and it becomes difficult to enforce the business’ copyright, insofar as the key materials were not registered at the USPTO.
Virtuoso Legal are an intellectual property specialist law firm, established in 2007 and based in London and Leeds. Virtuoso Legal have dedicated experts who are able to assist across the spectrum of intellectual property, from registering, commercialising and enforcing IPRs.
www.virtuosolegal.com 0113 237 9900
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