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Harness Dickey delivers complete counseling and advice on questions and issues involving copyright law. Our experience ranges from registration to enforcement, and we’ll guide you through the process of protecting your inherently valuable original works of authorship. We handle matters as routine as recording copyright interests with U.S. and foreign registrars and customs authorities, as well as a vast array of other matters involving copyrightable subject matter — some of which might surprise you.

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Did you know, for example, that an ornamental pattern applied to a useful article such as a shoe is protectable as an original work of authorship under copyright law, and that infringing that copyrighted design might cost you more than $2 million?  One of our adversaries recently learned that lesson. It doesn’t matter whether we are dealing with architectural works, software, toys, drawings, paintings, musical scores, literature, film, screenplays, websites, marketing materials, embellished apparel and footwear, jewelry, sculptures, original patterns or designs — our attorneys will help you identify, register, protect and enforce your copyright rights in your company’s original and valuable “works” in the U.S. and throughout the world … and we’ll do it cost effectively.

Our attorneys will explain the substantial benefits of registering your copyrights promptly after your original works are created. We can also help you install proactive registration programs that ensure ownership and protection of your copyrights in the jurisdictions of interest to you. Part of this strategy involves reviewing your agreements to ensure that appropriate contracts are in place with your employees, vendors and consultants when they assist in developing copyrightable assets.

Many don’t realize that an agreement providing for “deliverables” does not necessarily convey the rights to protect against unauthorized copying of those “deliverables” or provide the right to adapt, add to, modify or update those deliverables. We’ll make sure you get all the rights you are entitled to upfront so you and your company own all of the rights in your “deliverables” from the very outset of your project. This way, you are later free to adapt and change those deliverables without requiring the consent of or additional payment to any vendor who participated in the creation of the deliverables.

Our attorneys enforce copyrights in order to maximize their value. We prosecute and defend copyright claims in federal court and on appeal, and we coordinate with foreign associate lawyers to enforce and defend your claims in foreign jurisdictions. Our lawyers have considerable experience in resolving copyright ownership and attribution disputes throughout the world.

Dealing with issues such as authorship, idea development and submission, “works-made-for-hire” and ownership are routine matters for our lawyers. We know this subject matter inside-out. One of the most commonly misunderstood concepts in copyright law pertains to the “works-made-for-hire” doctrine. Many believe that all specially commissioned projects result in “works-made-for-hire.”  This is not true. In fact, most specially commissioned projects do not result in works-made-for-hire.

When original works of authorship are created in your organization, let us help you document ownership and secure the valuable copyright rights in these works. If you are buying a business or acquiring rights in software or other copyrightable works, we can help you “kick the tires” by confirming that the seller actually owns what they are selling. We’ll also ensure that you are getting all of the rights you are paying for — and you may actually get a better price in the process. Our attorneys are sure to add value either way.

Copyright Registration & Counseling

The electronic manner in which so much business is conducted today, coupled with the ease with which information and data are copied and shared, make the identification and registration of copyrighted works imperative. At Harness Dickey, we understand the compelling and practical reasons to register copyrights, and we will assist you in developing a cost-effective registration system that fits your business model.

Copyright registration and counseling is one of Harness Dickey’s core competencies. Our experience includes:

  • Identifying copyrightable works and determining what is and what is not copyrightable subject matter, including resolving issues pertaining to copyleft, which allows authors to give every person receiving a copy of the work permission to reproduce, adapt and distribute the work and provided no limits are imposed on how the work can be used.
  • Resolving authorship and ownership issues
  • Advising on proper copyright notice and compliance with the Universal Copyright Convention
  • Analyzing work-made-for-hire agreements and evaluating the permissibility of derivative works
  • Developing customized registration programs and procedures
  • Crafting agreement specific copyright terms and conditions, including representations and warranties
  • Providing “fair use” assessments
  • Assisting clients with copyright transactions and agreements of every sort, including content and copyright licenses and assignments, as well as agency, exhibition, publishing and royalty agreements
  • Counsel pertaining to the details of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
  • Asserting and defending against claims of copyright infringement and overseeing the take downs of unauthorized content

Copyrights come into existence without any federal registration requirement. Nevertheless, a federal registration is a pre-requisite to pursuing an infringement claim in federal court, and substantial benefits are conferred when the registration is obtained prior to the onset of infringement. Unfortunately, it is too often the case that a copyright owner learns these lessons too late, and after the infringement has commenced. Let us explain the details to you and help you avoid being deprived of critical legal protections and remedies.

Copyright Litigation

Harness Dickey maintains an impressive history of the successful litigation of copyright claims. The Firm is committed to winning even the toughest and most complex copyright cases, demonstrating our absolute commitment to our clients and their rights.

Our experience in copyright litigation ranges from computer software; to architectural plans; to text, scientific, technological and graphic/pictoral works; to sound recordings and audiovisual works; to Internet advertising and piracy. Our litigators are veteran practitioners in all aspects of copyright litigation, including:

  • Evaluating potential infringement cases and devising the right strategy going forward
  • Assessing the validity of copyrights, including chain of title, Copyright Office recordation, and priority of transfers
  • Drafting and responding to cease and desist letters
  • Bringing and defending preliminary injunctions
  • Analyzing potential and appropriate remedies against infringers
  • Preparing and trying cases in courts throughout the country

Our extensive trial experience provides clients with a unique advantage. Having tried several copyright cases over many years of practice, Harness Dickey litigators have the experience and perspective needed to prosecute copyright claims both efficiently and aggressively, as well as to defend all variety of copyright infringement.

When an infringer has misappropriated copyrighted content, we pursue relief for our client both in and out of court. We regularly assist clients to resolve copyright disputes prior to litigation through alternative dispute resolution or informal negotiations. We deliver in-depth copyright experience in all matters pertaining to the application of copyright law to the Internet and other online environments, literal and non-literal copying claims and open source, as well as DMCA safe harbors and anti-circumvention, secondary liability and fair use. We also coordinate and supervise copyright litigation on a global scale.

Our Copyright Litigation team also works closely with clients to plan for, manage and avert the risks associated with both traditional copyright matters, as well as in emerging areas of change and uncertainty.​

Customs & Border Protection

Most people know that our U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP) has the ability to seize counterfeit and infringing goods at U.S. borders. But… did you know that trademark and copyright registration owners can record those documents with CBP, and CBP will actively look for, seize and destroy infringing and counterfeit products?

CBP has substantial power to search imports and exports and exclude, detain and/or seize and destroy counterfeit and infringing products. And, if you help them by using their registration system, they’ll help you by seeking out problem imports and exports. When CBP suspects that goods are infringing, the goods are detained for up to thirty days — during which time CBP will determine whether to formally “seize” the goods. During the detention period, copyright and trademark owners are advised of the country of origin, the date of importation and the port of entry, and they are given a description of the merchandise and the quantity of merchandise being detained. If a seizure occurs, the copyright/trademark owner is advised of the country of origin, the date of importation, the port of entry, a description of the merchandise and the quantity of merchandise, and is also given the names and addresses of the manufacturer, exporter and importer. This information often proves invaluable if a lawsuit is warranted.

Using the Intellectual Property Rights Recordation (IPRR) system is easy. It can be done online using a credit card, and the cost is minimal. If you are experiencing problems with counterfeit or infringing products being imported or exported at our borders, let us help you register your intellectual property rights with CBP. Making trademark and copyright rights known to border personnel works. In 2014 alone, more than $1.23 billion worth of illegal goods were seized by CBP.

Harness Dickey assists clients by familiarizing CBP with client products and by providing information about known or suspected infringers/infringing products. Using a system known as “C-TPATS” (Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism Security), owners can assist CBP in recognizing counterfeits/knock-offs of their original products through a portal located online. CBP, at no cost, will engage with you and become familiar with your products so CBP agents can more readily identify illegal products at the border. Just let us know if you’d like more information about this useful, no-cost tool.