A - First things first. You need to know if copyright is the
relevant IP right for the circumstances. Copyright covers a wide
range of works, from written material to photographs, music to
films and computer programmes to video productions.
Any new work which can broadly be said to be a literary,
dramatic, musical or artistic work attracts copyright protection.
This does not mean, however, that a work has to have artistic merit
to attract copyright. For example, a computer programme falls into
the "literary work" category, as does this bulletin.
Important exclusions from copyright are design documents or
models for industrial products. A more appropriate way to utilise
your IP rights here would be to use registered or unregistered
Once you have established that copyright is relevant to your
product or service, you do not in fact need to do anything more.
Unlike other IP rights, with copyright there is no system for
There are, however, things you can do to help promote your
rights. Firstly, you can lodge copyright material with, for
instance, your bank or solicitor. Blackadders already does this for
a number of clients. This means that there is good evidence of the
date the material came into existence, which will help if there is
any dispute with another business over ownership or infringement of
Another way to assert your copyright is to use the "©" logo
prominently on all copyright material. For example, since this
bulletin is an original literary work, it is appropriate to put at
the end "© Blackadders 2009". This puts others on warning that you
are aware of your IP rights and are likely to assert them if there
is any question of copyright infringement.
Copyright protects the owner from infringement in the form of
copying, issuing copies to the public, broadcasting or altering the
copyright work. This leaves you free to exploit the copyright work
yourself or to sell or license the copyright in the work to others.
In most cases, copyright lasts for the author's lifetime plus 70
Clark, Partner - Tel: 01382 229 222
Associate - Tel: 01382 229 222