Importance of IP For Start-ups and Entrepreneurs (Part V): Copyrights

Copyright protects ideas expressed on a tangible form. The expression may be in the form of literary work like website content, brochure content etc, photographic work such as pictures used on website, brochures, etc, artistic work like layout of website, drawings, etc, cinematographic work such as promotional videos, support videos, etc, and so on. Protection of copyrights provides several business and competitive advantages to startups and entrepreneurs.

A startup company must protect its marketing materials, documents, websites and so on under the copyright law. Copyright protection over a work starts from the date of creation of the work and registration is not mandatory. However, registration gives certain benefits such as presumption of ownership. A start-up company may protect its works by taking the following steps:

  1. Incorporating copyright notices on copyrightable materials such as websites, presentations, software, interfaces, brochures and so on. The sample format of copyright notice is: Copyright, SiNApSE (Name of the company), 2015 (Year of creation of the work).; and
  2. Registering important copyrightable works such as interfaces of software, code, artistic works and so on. Registration of a copyright is very cost effective and application may be filed easily. The copyright office now has an online filing system, and any person can use it to file copyright applications.

For online businesses, copyrights assume more importance than other businesses from both protection and risk mitigation perspectives. Protecting copyrights in interfaces, website designs, layouts, menu structures, and other possible aspects of the business will make it difficult for competitors to replicate the business. It will also prevent slavish copying by competitors.

In addition to protecting copyrights, online businesses and ecommerce portals must also ensure that third party copyrights are not infringed by appropriate measures and take down policies. Every online business and e-commerce portal must have a well defined set of terms and conditions and privacy policy to protect and safeguard its interests.