Did you know that the protection of artistic works in the United States is founded in our U.S. Constitution? At the time the constitution was written our founding fathers recognized that artists should maintain rights in their works sufficient to inspire continued creativity without the fear that their works would be wrongfully misappropriated. You can find this clause in Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution.
Today, however, many artists are unaware of all of the protections afforded to them under U.S. trademark and copyright laws. As such, the purpose of this paper is to provide a simple overview of the various forms of intellectual property protection available to artists and the original works they create.
- Trademark(s): Trademarks are used to identify the source of the goods or services. For artists, trademarks usually protect your name (e.g., Picasso, David Yurman) but may also protect tag lines or slogans you use to identify your brand (e.g., Margaritaville).
- Copyright(s): Copyrights protect the original works of artistic expression themselves. For artists this may be the visual works you create (e.g., drawings, designs, paintings, sculptures). It may also include the designs of jewelry and other works of original artistic expression sufficient to entitle the creator of the same to copyright protection therefore.
- Register Your Trademark(s): First, Register your Trademark(s). A U.S. federal trademark registration not only will assist you in preventing infringement of your name or tag lines but may also provide a critical shield against allegations of infringement by others.
- Register Your Copyright(s): Second, and of critical importance for artists, Register your Copyright(s). Your original paintings, sculptures, drawings, jewelry designs. Get them registered as a Copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office. Such registrations are valuable to prevent other artists and retailers from selling unauthorized copies of your works.
- Monitor for Infringement: Third, you must be vigilant in Monitoring for Infringement of your trademarks and copyrights. You should create a system, or hire a company that specializes in the same, for monitoring trademarks filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, used on the Internet, the registration of domain names, as well as conducting routine searches of internet retailers or other outlets that specialize in the sale of your form of art to make sure infringement of your copyright protected works does not occur.
- Enforce Your Rights: When infringement is spotted you must act quickly to Enforce Your Rights before it impacts your sales and your rights in your copyrights and trademarks. As referenced above, having your trademarks and copyrights registered is a critical step in the protection of your rights. If you have done so, then when infringement is spotted it is typically far easier to stop quickly and affordably. As most internet retailers and web hosts as a whole have policies that preclude the sale of works that infringe on another’s rights or reproduction of the same, if your copyrights and trademarks are registered you can often get the infringing materials removed from online stores of websites within days. If they are not registered there are other options for enforcement, however, they are typically more costly and take more time all the while additional counterfeit goods continue to be sold or reproduced.
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