Workplace Considerations for Copyrights
At CARR, our copyright lawyers assist clients with securing assignment agreements and creating internal policies to ensure work created by and for the company remains the company's property. In the case of works "made for hire," which are works prepared by an employee within the scope of employment, the employer and not the employee is considered the "author". In contrast, copyrights in works created by third party consultants are not owned by the contracting company. Ownership in that case can be obtained only by written assignment of the copyrights, preferably as specified in a written agreement between the company and contractor.
Our copyright lawyers routinely advise clients as to application of suitable forms of Intellectual Property protection for "works" that might also be protected by copyrights. Perhaps the most common example of a "work" created by technology companies is software. CARR attorneys assist clients in securing ownership in the software created by employees as well as by contractors. Often, software implemented in a computer environment can also be protected by one or more patents. As is true of virtually any information providing a commercial advantage, software can be maintained as a trade secret, if reverse engineering techniques can be avoided and substantial secrecy can be maintained.
While registration with the U.S Copyright Office is not required to secure copyright protection, filing an application seeking copyright registration is generally a prerequisite to enforcement of copyrights in federal court. Timely application to register copyrights is also necessary to preserve the right to recover statutory damages and attorneys' fees from the alleged infringer. To preserve such rights, an application must be filed within three months of publication of the "work" sought to be registered, or before the infringement begins. The safest approach is to apply for registration prior to publication of a work, but in any event no later than three months after its publication.
CARR Intellectual Property attorneys serve clients throughout Texas, the United States, and the world. We counsel inventors and businesses in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, Plano, Richardson, Frisco, Marshall and other cities in Texas. Our attorneys also serve many international clients, including companies in Hong Kong, Taiwan, United Kingdom, Canada, and Israel.