As a small business owner, you face intense competition to attract new customers while retaining old ones. You need to set your business apart so that your business name instantly comes to mind when someone thinks of your products or services. An original business logo or design can help brand your business name in the public’s mind. You can legally protect your original works by registering them with the U.S. Copyright Office and obtaining a copyright.
If your small business uses original printed works including logos, designs and emblems, you can register them with the U.S. Copyright Office. The original printed work is protected whether you use it on your business cards, t-shirts, brochures or pamphlets. If you write original informational or promotional brochures or pamphlets, or put together an original products catalog, you can register and copyright that information as well. Original scripts used to advertise and promote your business can also be copyrighted.
Music and Sound Recordings
Electronic advertising can help promote your small business. You can secure a copyright for your original music and verbal works. If you hire a jingle writer to produce an original work and purchase it, you can copyright the written lyrics and the music at the same time. Likewise, both a written advertising script and the sound recording of it can be copyrighted. The original work is protected whether it is recorded on a cassette tape, a vinyl record, a CD or a digital recording. If you advertise on the radio or television, the original script and the recording of it can be copyrighted.
Websites, Homepages and FTP Sites
If you have a website or FTP site for your small business, some of the elements contained can be copyright protected. Original pictures, artwork, photographs and writings can be copyrighted but not your domain name. Your automated database and original computer programs can be copyrighted. The original content placed in electronic daily and serial newsletters can be registered and copyrighted. Original works you place in FTP are protected if you obtain a copyright.
Copyright Infringement Protection
Your copyright gives you exclusive rights to your original works. For example, if a competitor likes your logo a little too much and starts using it, you can take steps to protect it. You can start by sending a cease and desist letter informing them of your exclusive rights and demand they immediately stop using your work. If the unauthorized use continues, you can file a copyright infringement civil lawsuit in federal court. If you believe your copyrighted material was used for criminal purposes, you can contact the Intellectual Property Division of the FBI to file a formal complaint.
Read More: Forms of Copyright Infringement
Based in St. Petersburg, Fla., Karen Rogers covers the financial markets for several online publications. She received a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of South Florida.