A significant change in intellectual property law took place when the Supreme Court ruled recently on a copyright infringement case. With contradictory rulings on the books in the Circuit Courts, the highest court unanimously determined that copyright infringement claims are valid only when the copyright is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.
The old way of doing things
Before this ruling was handed down, the Fifth and Ninth Circuit Courts ruled that copyright protection could begin as early as the filing date of the completed application with the Copyright Office and all fees were paid. The Tenth and Eleventh Circuit Courts ruled that protection began when the Certificate of Registration was issued, about seven weeks later when approved. Moreover, claimants were sometimes able to file a suit even if the Copyright Office rejected their application.
The impact in the real world
The average person may have not previously considered filing a copyright application or thought it unnecessary or too inconvenient. Some critics voiced concern that the seven-week application process was too long in the internet age. This ruling, however, means it is now even more critical for businesses and individuals to be prepared and registered when they realize that someone else is using their original content, software, technology, graphics, or photography without authorization.
An IP attorney can provide guidance
An experienced copyright attorney can help owners with their application to register or set up regular protocols for applying to register each new copyright as it is created. These are the best ways to prepare and respond in a timely and effective fashion to any infringement.