Wednesday, September 28, 2011

True Stories: IP registrations work

In the past week, I wrote demand letters for two clients whose intellectual property rights were being violated.  We received instant and complete success in both cases.

In one instance, a former employee was using my client's copyright protected materials.  I sent the former employee a demand letter to cease and desist, to destroy all materials in her possession and send us list of all such materials and a list of all persons to whom she distributed the materials.  The former employee complied with our demands, completely, within two hours. 

In the other case, I wrote a demand letter to a company that was offering a service that was identical to my client's service and was doing so under a brand name that was so close to my client's service name that it constituted infringement.  The other company's CFO called me immediately after receiving my letter and told me that they would stop using the infringing name.

The key in both cases was registration.  In the first instance, I trained my client to register its copyrights and the client did so.  The former employee could have been sued for violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and faced enormous exposure to a court award of damages and attorneys fees.

In the second instance, my client had a Federal trademark registration for its name.  The infringing company faced great exposure to a suit for bad faith infringement.

Over the years, I have urged my clients to register their copyrights and trademarks.  Having such a registration gives a tremendous advantage to the owner of such intellectual property.  These cases show the leverage that the owner of a copyright or a trademark can have.