The “little things” :: A Special Thank You from LaunchHER

To say that we don’t get caught up in the number of Facebook fans LaunchHER has, would be a lie.  In fact, as we’re writing this, we have 2,504 fans.  Of course we keep track!  This is the community we interact with on a daily basis.  We use our Facebook page as a place to promote your business, share our business articles, and as a place to just “chat”.  Not only that, but we are sincerely flattered when we see people share LaunchHER posts, or recommend our page to other small business owners.  Facebook fans are very important to us.

LaunchHER Legal and Marketing for Women in BusinessAt one of our usual Monday Meetings about a month ago, we chose a random milestone {2,500 fans} and decided that once we reached that milestone we would offer something special to express our thanks.  We didn’t make a huge hoopla about it, just a simple post here and there, because we want our Facebook page to continue to be a community not just a place where people just come for “free” stuff.  This is about you, and the immense support you have shown us and to the entire LaunchHER network.  We are happy to have reached over 2,500 Facebook Fans!

Maybe you’re asking, what have I done?

You “liked” a recent Freshly Launched post.

You shared.

You introduced yourself.

You found inspiration.

You gave support.

You “liked” another business’ page.

You commented.

You participated in Look @ Me Monday.

You read.

It may seem like a little thing to you, but to us, it’s ALL about the “little things” because they add up to great things. Great, BIG things.

So please, join us tomorrow to see what BIG things we have in store for you – it is a one-day exclusive that we have NEVER offered before.

xxoo, Tracy & Kara

LaunchHER Top 40 :: Profiles of Women Entrepreneurs 2011

Over the past 12 months, our tongue-in-cheek 40 Under 40 list of women-owned brands has become our most-read post. While the idea behind that list was to fulfill Kara’s personal goal of being named to a 40 Under 40 list while she was still, in fact, under 40, profiling amazing women entrepreneurs was thrilling.

So without further ado, we present the…

LaunchHER Top 40 :: Profiles of Women Entrepreneurs 2011*

In no particular order, but in keeping with tradition…in reverse alphabetical order, of course. {wink, wink}

  Molly Vernon {store owner/author}





    Jennifer Untermeyer {travel expert/entrepreneur}





  Amber Toste {boutique owner/fashion lover}





women in business becky sturm 3 way beauty   Becky Sturm {beauty business expert/inventor}





   Kim Stoegbauer {party stylist/editor/HGTV blogger}





   Leigh Standley {artist}





  Jessie Senese {party supplies}





   Anna Ryan & Selena Srabian {nurses/inventors}






   Mally Roncal {makeup artist/inventor}






   Cassandra Rippberger {graphic designer}






   Angela Parks {designer/blogger},





 Jo Packham {publisher/entrepreneur},



   Heather Mellstrom & Stephanie Monge {designers}





   Nikki McGonigal {author/crafter}





   Holly Mathis {interior designer}





   Jami Lindberg {entrepreneur/social media maven}





   Natalie Jost {designer/curator}





   Cathe Holden {graphic designer/writer}





   Valeria Guerrero {graphic designer/entrepreneur/founder}





   Sally Gemignani {party supplies}





   Jenny Ford {shoe designer/sugar lover}





   Lara Field {pediatric dietician/gluten-free guru}





   Tauni Everett {founder}





  Wendy Estes & Tiffany Harris {entrepreneurs/style mavens},





   Erin Edwards {jewelry designer}





   Rae Dunn {ceramic artist}





   Elizabeth Dehn {beauty writer & skincare creator}





  Anne M. Cramer {clothing designer}





   Bridget Connell {handbag designer}





   Jenni Clark {children’s clothing designer}





   Kim Christopherson & Kris Thurgood {DIY mavens}





  Grace Bonney {blogger/author}





  Jennifer Berson {publicist}





  Holly Becker {author/founder of decor8}





   Maureen Anders & Adria Ruff {graphic designers & party stylists}



*******************************launchher photo courtesy Megan Norman Photography

We are continually inspired by the women we meet, and are enjoying every minute of our own journey as women entrepreneurs.  Cheers!

~Kara Jensen Zitnick & Tracy Corcoran, LaunchHER

First time visiting LaunchHER? Welcome!

See what we’re all about



* This article is the sole opinion of LaunchHER. No payment or other consideration was exchanged for inclusion.

LaunchHER Gift Guide 2011 – Wrap up the cheer!

LaunchHER Gift Guide 2011 – Wrap up the cheer!

A little known fact about us is that we love to give gifts! With the holidays quickly approaching, we are anxious to pick out the perfect gifts for each of our family members and friends. We want to help our readers find the perfect gifts too, and that’s where you come in. We are inviting you to include a product from your shop in the LaunchHER Gift Guide.

launchHER gift guide handmade gift picks 2011 christmas

What is so special about LaunchHER? ::

  • approximately 78% of our readers/fans are women ages 25-44
  • we utilize our social media networks to spread the word! f:1729 t:4009 in:445
  • we promote and share your business and product throughout November & December with a link to the guide on our sidebar.

Important details ::

  • Keep in mind that we are looking for “giftable” products to feature. Fun & unique ideas for women, men, kids, etc.
  • Fees – $25 to participate {FREE for LaunchHER League Members}
  • The featured product description & photos are due to {} by October 26th, 2011.
  • LaunchHER reserves the right to limit products and/or shops in certain categories due to demand.

There are only 25 spots available for the 2011 LaunchHER Gift Guide and they will go fast. Sign up today, and get your products noticed this holiday season. {cheers!}

Update: The 2011 LaunchHER Gift Guide is full.  If you are interested in other advertising opportunities with LaunchHER for the holiday season, or becoming a LaunchHER League member, please contact Tracy Thank you!

Launch it Right :: Trademarking Your Brand

Ever wondered why you should trademark your brand?  We are going to share why it’s important for brands of all sizes…even yours!

While registering a trademark can seem costly, especially when you are just starting out, by NOT registering your mark and securing legal protection for your business name, you are placing your entire business venture in jeopardy. When you delay in registering your trademark, you open the door to the possibility of finding yourself in the unenviable position of either defending your unregistered trademark (good luck to you with that) or surrendering “the perfect business name” you searched high and low for to the savvy business person who did not delay in registering their “perfect business name.”

Don’t place yourself in a situation that is stressful and the outcome unknown. Register the name of your business, product or idea today! You will never regret it. Especially when you sleep well at night, knowing your good name is registered.
If you receive the LaunchHER newsletter, or follow The TomKat Studio, you have probably already heard the buzz.  We are offering a one of a kind business package that INCLUDES a trademark application.  Launch it Right is a package of our most requested services and includes:

  • a trademark application
  • a written press release with distribution
  • an hour long business consultation on the topic of your choice {SEO, branding, social media marketing, & shop critique}

The entire package is available for the month of August for just $325*. Considering a trademark alone starts at $500*, this is an amazing offer. Space is limited, reserve your spot by emailing today!

*Government filing fee of $275 for trademark filing is additional.

The material contained herein is meant as general information only and should not be taken as legal advice.  No attorney-client relationship exists as a result of merely reading this article.  Should you require legal assistance, you may inquire further via email at Kara Jensen Zitnick at  

LaunchHER Law :: When Imitation is Annoying – Making Copyright Protections Work for You


Kara J. Jensen Zitnick, Esq.


Jensen Zitnick, P.A.


The material contained herein is meant as general information only and should not be taken as legal advice.

No attorney-client relationship exists as a result of merely reading this article.

Image courtesy of Shelly Kennedy, be your original best founder

“it is so unfair!
i want to stomp my feet and shout like a toddler (i have, and i do)

copying the work of others is NOT NICE! it’s simple. don’t copy!

be inspired.

be creative.


be your best.

now – i’m aware that no ideas are truly original. i get that. all artists and creatives seek their inspiration from somewhere. what i’m talking about is an intent to replicate a work, and then market as your own – same material, same size, same colors, same fonts, same description (sometimes even cut & pasted right from the original source!)

as a consumer i see copying all OVER the place! craft fairs, etsy, catalogs, trade shows,- fabrics, figurines, decorative accessories, decor, shoes, blog copy, clothing, magazine lay-outs, wall art, jewelry, – you name it. “just because everyone is doing it” – doesn’t make it right .

–Shelly Kennedy, be your ORIGINAL best founder

Hear, hear! Unfortunately, Shelly’s observation that copying seems to be everywhere doesn’t seem too far from the truth. I see it everyday, and it makes my blood boil.  It’s been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Um… really? To me, it’s not flattering. It’s annoying. It’s offensive.  And – it’s illegal.  So what’s a creative gal to do? Read on for my top three “Copyright Best Practices” you can utilize now to protect your creative works.

1.      Give Notice

Prominently display a short statement on your work that informs would-be infringers that your work is original and protected. It’s that simple. Giving Notice eliminates an infringer’s possible defense that the infringement was unintentional or accidental. Why does this matter? If the potential infringer cannot prove unintentional infringement, you have a much better chance to prove the infringement was willful. If you can prove the infringement was willful, you stand a much better chance of winning statutory damages (AKA, money) in an infringement action.

2.      Register

Formally registering your creative works and obtaining a copyright has so many advantages:  If you register your work and get a copyright, your chance of obtaining those statutory damages (AKA, money) in an infringement situation are so much better than if you do not register your work. Best case scenario, really, is to register your work before the infringement occurs. If you do NOT register your work and obtain a copyright, stopping the infringement after it occurs may result in you spending money to hire attorneys to stop the infringement. And without the registration, you cannot take full advantage of copyright advantages, such as getting your attorney fees paid by the infringer AND statutory damages (again, money).

Bottom line? Register your work right away. Before the copycats have a chance to strike.

3.      Make Your Copyright Work for You

By now you may be thinking registration seems like just a big hassle, because then I have to actually sue the infringer to get the damages (money), and I don’t really want to sue. So I will just take my chances.


Even if you don’t ever foresee yourself bringing an infringement case against a copycat, registering your work is important to consider for what the registration on its own may do for you. The shear existence of a registered copyright can be enough, in many situations, to scare the infringer to stop the infringing action.  A strongly worded cease and desist letter, including your registration information, as well as the statutory consequences of infringing, may be enough to bring an end to the infringer’s actions. I have seen this theory in action. It’s a good day when the copycats are shut down. Furthermore, when a copycat is faced with defending his claim and is made aware of the monetary consequences of his infringement, via the same cease and desist letter, suddenly settlement becomes a very attractive option to the infringer. I have also seen this theory in action. Never underestimate the power of a registered copyright.

Where to go from here………

  • Register your copyrights.
  • Give notice of your copyright on your blog, website, webpages, blog posts, text, graphics, etc.
  • Actively enforce your copyright protection.

Because we here at LaunchHER take the issue of copyright infringement very seriously,

for a limited time, we are offering

affordable, specially-priced flat-fee legal representation specifically for copyright issues.

Services include:

copyright registrations,

copyright enforcement against infringers,

and copyright notice consults.

For more information contact

©2011 Kara J. Jensen Zitnick, Esq. All rights reserved

No part may be copied or reproduced without express written permission from the author.

LaunchHER, Jensen Zitnick, P.A.

LaunchHER Law :: Make It Easy

In this season of gift-buying and gift-giving and on-line shopping, I need to take a break from the hardcore legal stuff and share with you all a few things that have been on my mind.

Here at LaunchHER, Sallisha and I love nothing more than promoting women-owned brands. I think you know that by now! But there are times, especially when preparing our LaunchHER::40 Under 40 and our LaunchHER::Gift Picks , when we just are not able to promote some of the fabulous brands and business ventures we love. And here’s why:

1. We Don’t Know Your Name — not your business name, but your actual name. Especially for the 40 Under 40 Profiles, there are wonderful gals we couldn’t include, because we couldn’t figure out their names! Promote your brand, but let people know a bit about the name behind the brand, as well.

2. No Headshot — we want to see the face behind the brand! And you know what? So do your customers. With the 40 Under 40 Profiles, we had to actually revise our picks during the writing process after we went to some sites and couldn’t find a headshot of the brains behind the brand. Invest in a good headshot. You will use your headshot in so many instances and across so many platforms. Truly an expense you won’t regret.

3. We can’t find you on Facebook — notice I didn’t say you weren’t on Facebook. You may very well have a wonderful Facebook page for your business, but we couldn’t find it. Make linking to your Facebook page from your website super simple. We love to promote across many platforms, but when your business isn’t on Facebook, you are losing out on additional promotional opportunities. (And if you aren’t on Facebook, why not?!)

4. We can’t find you on Twitter — you may very well be on Twitter, but again, we can’t find you. Sometimes people tweet under Twitter handles that are different than their business names. While it’s okay to have a twitter handle that is for more personal use, we always recommend you tweet under your business name, at the very least (it’s an extension of your brand, after all). Just like Facebook, make linking to your Twitter account from your website super simple. We absolutely LOVE promoting other brands over Twitter and are, quite frankly, a little sad when we aren’t able to because we can’t find your account.

5. Bad Product Photos — promoting you and your products on-line is difficult when your photos don’t do your products justice. There were are least 2 products I personally wanted to feature in my Gift Picks that I just couldn’t do. I either have these products or have seen them in-person and they are adorable! And absolutely perfect for gift giving. Imagine my disappointment when I went to the site to grab a picture for the profile and the pictures didn’t even look like the same products! I know product photography is challenging. But again, you will never regret investing in good product photography. Your sales will increase and others will be more inclined to promote you. I know I will.

Take the time to incorporate the above 5 suggestions into your business and who knows? YOU might just be featured on LaunchHER!

Kara Jensen Zitnick, Esq. is an attorney specializing in flat-fee legal services for small businesses, including Trademarks, Copyrights and Patents.  She is available for consult and retainer and can be reached at or on Twitter at @launchHERLaw.

LaunchHER Law :: You Had Me At Hello, And a GIVEAWAY!

You Had Me At Hello —
5 Considerations For Hiring An Attorney
Kara J. Jensen Zitnick, Esq.
Jensen Zitnick, P.A.
Twitter :: @LaunchHERLaw

The material contained herein is meant as general information only and should not be taken as legal advice. No attorney-client relationship exists as a result of merely reading this article. Should you require legal assistance, you may inquire further via email at

Through the course of past LaunchHER :: Law articles and the legal topics discussed, I’ve nearly always recommended you seek out legal counsel for questions and specific advice regarding each topic and how it may relate to your small business. As a result, so many of you are left wanting to know what to look for when seeking out an attorney to handle such business matters. To assist you in your search, here are what I consider to be five important considerations when searching for a small business attorney.

1. Experience In order for you to get the most out of an attorney-client relationship, an attorney who has had actual experience or first-hand knowledge of your industry, craft or endeavo,r will serve you both well as you will likely be starting off the relationship with the same base knowledge.

2. Relatability Is this person someone you feel a connection with? Can you relate to each other, either because of similar backgrounds, life experiences, or other commonalities?

3. Fees Don’t be shy about asking the attorney about their fees and their fee structure. No matter how much you think their experience and background matches up with your business, if you can’t afford the fees, you might as well move on and keep looking. It doesn’t make sense to put your entire profit stream in jeopardy just to secure legal protection for your business.
4. Rapport How does a conversation with the potential attorney make you feel — energized, optimistic, relieved? At a minimum, an attorney-client relationship with mutual respect for each other’s talents and abilities can go a long way toward building a positive professional relationship.

5. Sincerity also known as “the smarmy factor.” Let’s face it, every profession has its share of smarmy people. The legal profession may seem to have more than its fair share, but hopefully you have no personal experience in this area. When you speak with an attorney for the first time, you should be able to tell whether the attorney truly cares about having you and your business as a client. Are their comments just a lot of puffery? Do they seem to promise a lot for a very small fee? Sincerity is a quality that is tough to fake. You either are a sincere person or you aren’t, in my opinion. Whatever that feeling is deep in your gut about the attorney you are interviewing, whether they are trustworthy and honest go with it. When was the last time that feeling was wrong?

©2010 Kara J. Jensen Zitnick, Esq. All rights reserved
No part may be copied or reproduced with express written permission from the author.
Jensen Zitnick, P.A.

In celebration of Small Business Saturday, this Saturday, November 27, we here at LaunchHER are giving away a sponsorship ($65 value) on our site for the month of December!
Just in time for holiday shopping and sales, get your site listed and featured!
1. You must comment on this post and list your email address.
2. Optional Additional Entry: Follow Kara on twitter, @LaunchHERLaw, to stay in the loop on all things legal for your small business! (Then come back to the comments and tell us you are a new follower!)
3. Optional Additional Entry: tweet that you follow @LaunchHERLaw for an additional chance to win!
Drawing closes at midnight, Saturday, November 27, 2010, with the drawing taking place Sunday, November 28th, 2010.
(Winner will have 24 hours to respond to email before another winner will be chosen.)

LaunchHER Law :: More Than A Handshake

More Than a Handshake
Kara J. Jensen Zitnick, Esq.
Jensen Zitnick, P.A.
Twitter :: @LaunchHERLaw

The material contained herein is meant as general information only and should not be taken as legal advice. No attorney-client relationship exists as a result of merely reading this article. Should you require legal assistance, you may inquire further via email at

There was a time when business arrangements could be decided and sealed with just a handshake. In this day and internet age, I think the only person who still literally operates this way is my 90 year-old grandfather. But figuratively speaking, I encounter clients on a regular basis who are conducting business in various forms without a written agreement. Here are the 4 most common business situations where a written agreement should exist:

1. Non-Disclosure Agreements
Before you start talking to anyone about anything relating to your new business idea or fabulous invention, have them sign a non-disclosure agreement. No matter what their relationship to you.

2. Co-Blogging
Blogging with a friend is becoming more and more common. It makes so much sense, really, to share the blogging duties. Not only do you share the work, but presenting blog posts from a different perspective adds a whole new dimension to your content. Which adds a whole new dimension to the business of blogging.

3. Guest Blogging
Even the most popular blogs around utilize guest bloggers from time to time. Whether a guest blogger is asked to write as an expert on a particular topic or provide new content while the blog owner takes a much-deserved break, a guest blogger relationship presents yet another business situation that should be covered by a written agreement.

4. Independent Contractor
In the world of a small business owner, the term “independent contractor” can apply to a variety of different people. Vendors, graphic designers, virtual assistants, web gurus, and PR consultants can all be characterized as independent contractors, and should be working with you under the terms of a contract.

Now that you know what situations should be covered under the terms of a written contract, and not just on a “virtual” handshake, here are the terms such a contract should address:
  • Ownership of material — whether it’s a post from a guest blogger or a co-blogger, who owns what material published on a blog should be addressed.
  • Compensation — it’s a sticky subject and one that most people want to avoid. But if you don’t address the matter of compensation, whether it is it for an independent contractor or someone blogging for you, the situation will only get stickier the longer the matter isn’t addressed in writing.
  • Scope of Duties/Expectations — reducing the expectations of a a guest blogger, blogging partner or an independent contractor down to a written document clearly defines the parameters under which all parties are expected to perform. Having a conversation about duties and expectations before a relationship is truly formed may seem awkward, but waiting to have the conversation until after the guest blogger submits material and posts it, will only make the situation more awkward.
  • Termination of the Relationship — coming up with an exit strategy at the start of a business relationship will make ending the relationship, if it comes to that, so much easier. Clearly defining termination terms at the beginning, before much time and effort is expended on behalf of the business, is actually an easier conversation to have than one may assume.

As silly and impossible as it seems in this day and age to seal a business relationship with a simple handshake, when you operate your business venture without a written agreement, you are doing just that. While having the necessary conversations, up front, to draft the documents necessary to form a good business relationship may seem too uncomfortable, imagine your discomfort when the business relationship falls apart and you both address, for the first time, the terms of the business arrangement.

When entering into a business arrangement, take a moment to reduce the expectations of all involved into a written document. You will be glad you did.

As a practicing attorney specializing in providing flat-fee legal services to independent business owners and entrepreneurs, especially in the start-up phase, Kara Jensen Zitnick can draft any agreement necessary to protect you and your business interests. Ms. Zitnick proudly offers custom contract drafting starting at just $150.00 and can be reached at

©2010 Kara J. Jensen Zitnick, Esq. All rights reserved
No part may be copied or reproduced with express written permission from the author.

LaunchHER Law :: 5 Steps to Boost Your Business Cache

LaunchHER says ::  We are thrilled to offer the 4th in our LaunchHER Law series by our own Kara Jensen Zitnick, Esq.  You won’t want to miss out on the first 3 in this tremendous series – be sure to check them out! 

5 Steps to Boost Your Business Cache
Kara J. Jensen Zitnick, Esq.
Jensen Zitnick, P.A.
The material contained herein is meant as general information only and should not be taken as legal advice.  No attorney-client relationship exists as a result of merely reading this article.  Should you require legal assistance, you may inquire further via email at 
To demonstrate you and your business are not just a flash-in-the-pan entity and plan to be around for the long haul, here are 5 steps you can take to boost the cache of your business’ image:
  1. Formalize Your Entity:           move beyond the Sole Proprietor stage and choose a business entity that fits your venture.  Whether it is Limited Liability Corporation, Limited Liability Partnership, Partnership, or Corporation, taking the steps to create the actual legal entity for your business signals to all those you either currently do business with or hope to that you value your business endeavors enough to formally register as a legal business entity.
  1. Organize Your Identity:         no matter in what medium you are presenting your business in (packaging, branding, logo, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, etc) your business should be readily recognizable. By combining consistent branding, along with referring to your brand in that same manner (ex: domain name, Twitter handle, and Facebook page name should all be the same, at a minimum) you elevate your business’ image by giving it instant recognition across multiple platforms.
  1. Intellectual Property Plan:      embrace the protections trademark registrations, copyrights and patents can provide to your business. When you trademark your brand, for example, your business’ image is automatically elevated in the stream of commerce since you’ve secured all the rights to prevent brands with names too similar to your registered mark from doing business under a confusingly similar name. Create a plan and strategy to protect your business’ marks by utilizing the protections of trademark registration, copyrights and patents.
  1. Get It In Writing:        formalize all business arrangements and agreements in writing.  From independent contractors, to vendors, to creative work arrangements, to preventing the dissemination of your business’ information, an attorney can draw up contracts for you to use in the course of your business. Formal contracts not only protect you and your business’ interests, but by operating under a written contractual agreement, terms of the relationship you have with those subcontractor, vendors, etc you do business are spelled out for all parties. Contracts, when drafted properly, can prevent business disagreements from progressing to litigation.
  1. Be Your Business 24/7:          realize that no matter where you are or who you encounter, whether it’s in real life, in-person, or online, you ARE you business.  All of your actions (or inactions) will reflect on the image of your business. By maintaining a professional image and keeping your composure, staying true to who you are, your positive actions and interactions speak for themselves. Positive reviews and word-of-mouth is priceless to elevating the image of your business.
Sometimes in the day-to-day of running a business, it’s so easy to get bogged down in the details of the moment.  Step back and look at your business and its image overall. Relate the 5 steps above to where your business is currently and where you want to be to identify changes to boost your business’s cache.
If you know you need custom contracts, an intellectual property strategy for brand protection, or would like to form a business entity, but don’t know where to start, I offer flat-fee legal services  specifically for indie businesses, entrepreneurs and start-ups.  You may contact me at for further inquiry.
©2010 Kara J. Jensen Zitnick, Esq. All rights reserved
No part may be copied or reproduced with express written permission from the author.
Jensen Zitnick, P.A.

LaunchHER Law :: Tell the Copycats to SCAT!

LaunchHER says ::  Again this week, we are thrilled to share LaunchHER Law with you!  Today’s feature is part three in our series by Kara Jensen Zitnick, Esq.  A seasoned small business attorney, Kara’s advice in Week One and Week Two was spot-on!  Already looking forward to next week!
Tell the Copycats to SCAT!
Kara J. Jensen Zitnick, Esq.
Jensen Zitnick, P.A.
Twitter :: @launchherlaw
The material contained herein is meant as general information only and should not be taken as legal advice.  No attorney-client relationship exists as a result of merely reading this article.  Should you require legal assistance, you may inquire further via email at
            Understanding the basics concepts of copyright law is essential whether you are a blogger, researcher, author, photographer, or anyone who publishes their own creative works.  Primarily, you should have a basic understanding of copyright law in order to protect your own legal rights.  Secondly, a working knowledge of copyright law will guide you on how you can lawfully use someone else’s work – whether you are summarizing that work, quoting from it, or reprinting.
What Copyright Covers
            Copyright law is a federal law which covers a broad spectrum of creative work, referred to as “works of authorship,” protecting almost all creative work that can be written down or otherwise captured in a tangible form:
·         Literary works (any prose or any other form of “words-only” creative work)
·         Musical works (covers music and lyrics)
·         Dramatic works (plays and accompanying music)
·         Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works (any kind of two- or three-dimensional art)
·         Motion pictures and other audiovisual works (any kind of multimedia; television shows, YouTube videos, movies)
·         Sound recordings (a separate copyright protects a recording artist’s rendition of the above music and lyrics)
·         Architectural works (blueprints for buildings)
Copyright Ownership
            Owning a copyright gives you the exclusive use of that work.  You hold the exclusive right to publish, copy or otherwise reproduce that work; whether to distribute the work; and to display or perform the work. Ownership also gives you the exclusive right to prepare the original work in a new form, “derivative works,” such as making a novel into a movie.
            Acquiring a copyright for your creative work is very easy. Really, you do not need to take any additional steps beyond creating the work for a copyright to exist.  Publication of the creative work is not a requirement.  Attaching a copyright notice or registering the work with the Copyright Office in the Library of Congress isn’t required, either.  The only requirement, under the law, is that the copyrightable works be “original.”
So Why Register Your Copyrighted Work?
            My previous two articles for LaunchHER have both emphasized the importance of any business endeavor to consider what their intellectual property consists of and what their value is to the business.  During the course of those discussions we’ve touched on copyrights and mentioned how the legal protections that copyright law offers should be given serious thought to. But if your work is copyrighted upon completion, why copyright, you may ask?  Great question.
            Because a copyright is part of that field we’ve talked about called “intellectual property,” a copyright, just like the other intangible property that makes up IP (trademarks, patents and trade secrets), can be bought sold, given away, licensed to others and bequeathed at death. For example: an author’s contract with a publisher is a license; the copyright is held by the author, but the revenue of the book is shared with the publisher when the author gives the publisher permission to edit, print and distribute the work.  Freelancer writers, especially in the newspaper realm, often sell their works outright. If, as part of your employment, you create copyrighted works, ownership of the copyright most likely belongs to the employer as part of your relationship.
            Copyright law grants the holder five exclusive rights to control the distribution and use of the copyrighted work.  The 5 exclusive rights are:
1.      The reproduction right;
2.      The derivative work right;
3.      The distribution right;
4.      The performance right; and,
5.      The display right.
The importance of formally registering your copyright and depositing a copy of your work for possible collection by the Library of Congress as required by the federal copyright statutes, attaches when you feel a copyrighted work of yours is being/has been infringed upon.  An owner cannot sue for copyright infringement until the copyright is registered.  In the event you discover what you believe to be infringement, in order to bring suit and recover statutory damages as well as attorneys’ fees, your copyright must be formally registered.  Monetary awards in copyright infringement cases usually consist of damages, profits, and statutory damages.
What You Can Do
            To afford your creative works the full extent of copyright protection, you may want to consider formally registering and depositing copies of the work with the Library of Congress.  In doing so, not only are you adding another protective layer to your creative venture’s assets, you are also telling those would-be copycats to scat.  A formal copyright registration and proof thereof is another tell-tale sign of the intelligence behind the creativity of your brand.
©2010 Kara J. Jensen Zitnick, Esq. All rights reserved
No part may be copied or reproduced with express written permission from the author.
Jensen Zitnick, P.A.