Intellectual Property Law Firm
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Why You Should Register your Copyright Now

Why You Should Register your Copyright Now

Registering your copyright is an important part of enforcing your intellectual property rights. Copyright registration gives you several benefits:

  • Ability to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement.
  • Ability to collect automatic or statutory damages against infringers, up to $150,000.
  • Solidification of the value of your intellectual property assets.
  • Deterrence to potential infringers

Except for very rare exceptions, you may not properly file a lawsuit for copyright infringement until you have filed a copyright application and the Copyright Office has examined and granted your application. Because normal processing times for copyright applications range from 4 to 6 months, failing to timely file a copyright registration can substantially delay your ability to assert your copyright claims in court.

If you need to quickly file a lawsuit to enforce a copyright, however, you are not entirely out of luck. If litigation is imminent (or in a few other time-sensitive situations) a copyright holder can request "special handling" for their application and obtain an expedited examination of their copyright application in 5 to 10 days. Special handling is significantly more expensive than a standard copyright application: the standard processing fee is 35 dollars while special handling is 800 dollars.

Additionally, with limited exceptions, unless your application for copyright registration is filed prior to infringement or within three months of the publication of your work, you cannot collect statutory damages or your attorney fees even if you win in court. If a work is registered, you can recover between $750 to $30,000 per work infringed, or up to $150,000 per work if the infringement is willful. Statutory damages dramatically increase the amount of money you can recover in a lawsuit because they are alternative to actual damages, which are often difficult to prove in court.

Significantly, the effective date for your right to claim statutory damages is the date that you file your copyright application--not the date your application is approved. Because a timely registration preserves your right to seek more damages in court, timely filing your copyright registrations will increase the value of your intellectual property and help deter potential infringers from stealing your work.
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