How to write a © copyright notice and why to use it? Reply

Using the © symbol is an easy way to notify the world that copyright exists in your original, creative work. While it’s not required by law to use the © to establish copyright in a photograph, piece of music or other creative work, it’s simple to do and could save you a lot of headache down the road.

Writing the copyright notice out as: ©; followed by the year the work was created; then the name of the creator; and then finally by the phrase ‘All rights reserved’ …is a simple way to do it.

For example: © 2021 Janie Doe.  All rights reserved.  This line of text notifies others that the work is protected by copyright; it identifies the owner/creator of the work and lists the year of first publication. (First publication can be the first time the work was written down and distributed, even if it’s written on a napkin or scrap of paper).

You might say that it’s easy for somebody to copy my music or photograph and just leave off the copyright notice. Yes, you’re right it is easy, and it does happen. But the good news is that you are still protected anyway and the person who copies your work and deletes the copyright notice won’t have the defense of being an innocent infringer.  Down the road if a copyright dispute arises, having initially placed a copyright notice on your work could come to your rescue.

Add the copyright notice to your sheet music, photographs, music video clips, website and electronic postings to create an official notice of your copyright ownership.  [Note that even if you are using the copyright symbol, it is still a good idea to register with the copyright office too!  For info on copyright registration, see:]

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

See also: US Copyright Office’s Circular 1 Copyright Basics and other blog posts on related topics – “Put The World On Notice of Your Copyright“;

USPTO Trademark rule requires foreign-domiciled applicants and registrants to have a U.S.-licensed attorney Reply

As of August 2019 the USPTO implemented a rule requiring Foreign Domiciled Applicants Screen Shot 2020-01-24 at 2.50.46 PMand Registrants to have a U.S. licensed attorney.


Here is an excerpt from about the rule:

USPTO Trademark rule

See ; This link provides for answering any questions about the rule via email.


Use Google Alerts to monitor use of your trademarks, copyright & online presence Reply

IMG_1761 copyUsing  a “Google Alert” is an easy way to monitor how your trademark, copyright, business name or storybook (ie your intellectual property) is being used or written about on the internet.  Google Alerts are FREE and help track the pulse of your online presence.

Setting up a Google Alert is simple.  Click on and enter the trademark, name or term you would like to track.   Putting your entry in quotation marks is a good way to refine the search results.  Additionally, a string of search terms can be used to further refine the results.  For example enter the search term as:  “your trademark”  OR  “storybook title”  and  “your name”.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.  –


House Passed Bill to Create Copyright Small Claims Court 1

Screen Shot 2019-10-23 at 2.11.18 PMThe CASE Act passed through the House of Representatives last night by a landslide vote 410 – 6.

The CASE Act creates a small claims court within the Copyright Office to provide copyright owners with an alternative to battling copyright infringement in federal court (which is expensive and often cost prohibitive for many creators).  The bill still needs to pass through the Senate and be signed by the President.

The text of CASE Act H.R. 2426 is available at:  More information is available at:

Labels & Tags show the TRADEMARK Reply

Trademark use isn’t always as obvious as you might think.  For example, the design on a sweatshirt or t-shirt (which might be why you notice and purchase the shirt) is not trademark use (it is decorative or ornamental use).  For trademark use look to the label inside the sweatshirt or t-shirt or the hang tag.  In the photo below, the GAP trademark on the label inside the sweatshirt is an example of trademark use verses the same three letters “GAP” on the front of the sweatshirt which is a decorative or ornamental use of the word.  This difference in the placement and use of GAP determines if the word is being used as a trademark.  Trademark use is important for brand owners to understand so they can protect their trademarks and apply for USPTO trademark registration.  A critical element to most USPTO trademark applications is showing the USPTO how the trademark is being used.

screen shot 2019-01-16 at 2.55.09 pm

Trademark use can also be found on websites, product packaging, displays and instruction manuals too.

For more information on trademark use and specimens of trademark use, see the TMEP (Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure) at

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

Bill Introduced to Create U.S. Copyright Small Claims Court Reply

CR Small ClaimsProposed legislation seeks to create a voluntary small claims court within the Copyright Office to provide copyright owners with an alternative to battling copyright infringement in federal court, which is expensive and often cost prohibitive for many creators.   The proposed small claims court limits claims to $15,000 (for works that are registered timely), $7,500 (for works that are not registered timely) and $30,000 for total monetary recovery (exclusive of attorneys’ fees and costs that may be awarded).  Promoted as a much needed avenue for independent artists to pursue infringement claims and enforce their copyrights for smaller claims at a reasonable cost.  The goal is to reverse the trend of creators being forced to forfeit their rights.

For a copy of the bill H.R. 3945: CASE Act of 2017 and to track its progress:

For more information:


What does Copyright Protect? (Great Question Eddie!) 2

Asking what copyright protects is a great question!  Thanks, Eddie, for asking me Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 12.35.17 PMyesterday in a blog comment. You have inspired this post.

Copyright is a form of intellectual property law that protects “original works of authorship” including literary, musical, artistic and dramatic works, such as photographs, articles, novels, sound recordings, sheet music, lyrics, jewelry designs, artwork, graffiti, poetry, screen plays, children’s books, user manuals, website content, movies, computer software, and architecture. [THE KEY is that the material (or work) is ORIGINAL].

Can I copyright a name, title, slogan, or short phrase? In most cases, No.  These things may be protected as trademarks. However, copyright protection may be available for logo artwork. In some circumstances, an artistic logo may also be protected as a trademark.

Can I copyright the name of my band? No. Names are not protected by copyright law. Some names may be protected under trademark law.

Can I copyright my domain name? No. Domain names are not protected by copyright law. Some domain protection may be available under trademark law.

Can I copyright my idea?  No.  Copyright does not protect ideas, concepts, systems, or methods of doing something. You may express your ideas in writing or drawings and claim copyright in your description (for example, a user manual), but be aware that copyright will not protect the idea itself as revealed in your written or artistic work.

Excerpt from the U.S Copyright Office at:

See also: “How to write a © Copyright Notice and Why to Use it” at; blog posts on trademarks and trademark registration at; “Copyright Basics” at ; “Copyright Protection Not Available for Names, Titles, or Short Phrases” at ; @iplegalfreebies and

USPTO Trademark Registrations can be updated due to New Technology Reply

Cassette tapes are one example of outdated technology that has prompted the USPTO tocassette tape issue a new pilot program to allow the identification of goods and services in trademark registrations to be amended due to technology evolution. Many moons ago it was important to have a trademark registration for the sale of music that included the sale of music on cassette tapes.  However, today the sale of music on cassette tapes could become obsolete due to the evolution of technology.  The sale of music has shifted toward digital formats and streaming services.

Having this new pilot program allowing for amendments to identification of goods and services in trademark registrations due to technology evolution is important, because, it allows trademark owners/brands to keep their trademark registrations alive longer.  Otherwise, extending the life of a USPTO trademark registration could be impossible due to changes in how registered trademarks are used (trademark use corresponds to the types of products or services a trademark is used with).

For example: If I obtained a USPTO trademark registration to use my logo to sell music on cassette tapes nineteen years ago and now I no longer sell music on cassette tapes but instead use my logo to sell a music streaming service, the pilot program could be a lifesaver for my USPTO trademark registration.  USPTO trademark registrations have ongoing filings due throughout the life of the trademark and without this pilot program, changes in how a trademark is used (music streaming vs. music on cassette tapes) can cancel a USPTO trademark registration.  As a result a new USPTO trademark application would have to be filed to cover music streaming.

Currently, requests for revising trademark registrations due to changes in use based on new technology requires filing two forms with the USPTO and a processing time of approximately 3-4 months. The cost is $200.  (Each form has a $100 fee). (USPTO fees are subject to change)  USPTO Announcement of Technology Evolution Pilot Program 

The sports car in the photo above had a tape deck!

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

See also: USPTO website at; USPTO website for sample G&S that have been revised; @iplegalfreebies and

Filing USPTO trademark applications is an unusual birth announcement for Beyoncé & Jay-Z’s twins Reply

The USPTO trademark database is the source of prized celebrity news … the names ofRUMI SIR CARTER Beyoncé & Jay-Z’s newborn twins (drum roll) RUMI CARTER & SIR CARTER.   The names RUMI CARTER & SIR CARTER were no longer secret after USPTO trademark applications were filed for both names in over a dozen classes of goods and services.  The products and services covered in the applications range from baby gear & toys to hair accessories, moisturizers & picture frames to fan clubs, music, movies & video games.

The filing of USPTO trademark applications for RUMI CARTER & SIR CARTER can serve a dual purpose: 1) act defensively to block or prevent other trademarks for the same or similar names being filed for the same types of goods and services; and 2) act as place holders in case the twins develop brands or products as they grow.  [USPTO Serial Numbers: 87506224, 87506186, 87506188]

Not surprisingly, similar USPTO trademark applications have been filed for Beyoncé & Jay-Z’s other child, BLUE IVY CARTER. [USPTO Serial Numbers: 86883293 and 85526099]

Why aren’t we all doing this?  Because it’s expensive.  The filing fee for each of the USPTO trademark applications for the kids names cost over $4,000 due to the large number of “classes of goods and services” included in the applications.  (The USPTO filing fee for each class of goods and services is $275).  Additionally, there are ongoing filing fees to maintain “intent to use” trademark applications and depending on how long it takes these wee ones to launch brands and products, new applications will need to be filed once the prescribed time limit for “intent to use” trademark applications expires.

I’m already a fan of RUMI CARTER & SIR CARTER, because, the filing of USPTO trademark applications for their names seems to have occurred shortly after their first breath!

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

See also: other blog posts on related topics –  “Do You Have a Right To Use Your Own Name As A Trademark?“;NAME Brand’ – Using your name as a brand and trademark; Blog posts on trademarks at; @iplegalfreebies and

Earning Music Royalties 2

Music royalties are earned and collected in different ways depending on the artist’s connection to the song and how the song is used or played.

For example, if you hear Miley Cyrus’s rendition of Dolly Parton’s classic ‘Jolene’ played over internet radio, the royalty payments are paid to both Miley as the performer (paid to her by SoundExchange) and to Dolly Parton who wrote the song (ASCAP pays Dolly Parton).  However, if you hear Dolly Parton’s original version over internet radio then she is compensated for both the original composition, and also for the sound recording (ie both ASCAP and Sound Exchange pay royalties to Dolly.)

Here are a few types of royalties that an artist might receive:

Performance Royalties – paid to the artist who wrote the song by Performance Rights Organizations (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC here in the USA) from fees collected for broadcasting or publicly performing copyrighted music in a variety of ways including: over the radio, in TV shows, in concerts, in elevators, as ring tones and on YouTube.

Digital Royalties – paid to the artist/s who performs on a recording and to the owner of the sound recording from fees collected for digitally streaming music by providers such as Pandora, Sirius XM, iTunes and various webcasters.

Mechanical Royalties – paid to the artist who wrote the song by the person/company who released a record (typically a record company).

Artist/Record Royalties – paid to the artist who performs a song by the person/company who released a record (typically a record company).

Synchronization Royalties – paid to the artist who wrote the song by a movie producer, TM show, or advertiser for use of the song in a movie, TV show, or ad.

It’s important to remember that artists must register with Sound Exchange and Performance Rights Organizations to receive royalties from these entities.

This post is dedicated to the composer Danilo Guanais.  I was honored to be able to sing in a choral performance of his Missa de Alcacus last month at Carnegie Hall.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

See also: blog articles on digital music royalties at; blog articles on using the copyright notice and registering your music with the U.S. Copyright Office at and; @iplegalfreebies and