Don’t Let Your Copyright Slip Away

While trademarks are the easiest form of copyright protection to lose, copyrights offer more flexibility. What many copyright owners don’t know is that – while uncommon – you can lose a copyright before it expires.

If you’re not careful, and you lose your copyright protections, you may not even know when it happens until it’s too late. With the help of the copyright protection attorneys at ETB Law, you can ensure that you never lose your trademark or copyright.

What are Copyrights?

Copyrights protect creative works and grant the creator/owner the sole right and ability to monetize and distribute their work as they see fit. Multiple creators can be on a copyright or an entity such as a company. Copyrights protect a product, whereas trademarks protect a brand. Many products and advertisements for such products are creative works that others will try to steal if you do not have a copyright.

What Do Copyrights Protect?

Currently, copyrights protect at least 11 types of works in the U.S.:

  • Art/imagery
  • Novels
  • Poetry
  • Plays
  • Comic Books
  • Computer Software
  • Digital Imagery
  • Music
  • Video/Film
  • Video Games
  • Architecture

Copyright protections in the U.S. do not extend to other countries.

6 Ways You Can Lose a Copyright

Unlike trademarks, copyrights are generally more difficult to lose. They are automatically granted without any formal requirements or ongoing usage. However, you still need to file them with the United States Copyright Office.

Copyrights are proofs of ownership and denote dates of creation. A copyright does not grant you ownership like a trademark.

The way copyrights work leaves a few loopholes that can cause you to lose your copyright long before it expires. To avoid any issues, contact ETB Law for help avoiding complications such as:

  1. Expiration: Copyrights have a limited term and will eventually expire. For works created after January 1, 1978, the term is the life of the author plus 70 years, or 90 years after creation for a corporate entity.
  2. Failure to Register Before Enforcement: In the U.S., while copyright protection is automatic, you must register the copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office before you can file a lawsuit for infringement in federal court. You have no proof that you own a copyright if you do not file for one. If you try to enforce it before you register the copyright, it can later become invalidated, or its validation process can be terminated.
  3. Assignment / Transfer: If you transfer your copyright to another party, you no longer own the rights. It’s important not to sign away your current or future copyrights with any business contract, especially ones where you license out your copyrights. Our qualified attorneys can review your contracts before you sign them. 
  4. Public Domain: Placing your work in the public domain before the copyright expires means relinquishing all copyright protections. This cannot be reversed and means anyone can use the work without restrictions. You do have to submit a notice to the U.S. Copyright Office if you wish to do this.
  5. Forfeiture for Non-Compliance: Certain regulatory non-compliance issues (rare cases) may result in the loss of some copyright protections. For example, if you were to consistently and incorrectly file a copyright, or attempt to copyright something with copyrighted material, you can lose some protections.
  6. Invalidation: If it’s determined that your copyrighted work doesn’t meet the requirements after being granted copyright protection, its copyright status can be revoked.

Understanding these scenarios can help ensure you maintain control over your copyrighted works.

Contact the Copyright Attorneys at ETB Law for Help Today

Copyrights are incredibly important to protecting your business’s assets. If you offer a product or service that utilizes copyrighted material, even in your advertising, you need to make sure you don’t lose it. If you do, you can be forced to stop selling/offering your goods and services or delay an important product launch. The best way to protect your intellectual property and copyrights is to talk to the attorneys at Emerson Thomson Bennett. We have extensive experience reviewing, protecting, and maintaining the intellectual property protections of businesses and individuals. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.



We provide complete intellectual property representation to business owners, inventors and artists in all matters related to the establishment and protection of domestic and international patents, trademarks and copyrights. Attorneys at our firm also serve as in-house IP counsel for companies whose needs do not call for a full-time internal position.


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