Intellectual Property Considerations For Online Business Owners, Part 1

Intellectual Property Considerations For Online Business Owners, Part 1

By Susan Radde, Assistant General Counsel for True Value Company

If you are a new company launching an online business, the look and feel of your website is crucial to your success.   If you are a small business, unfortunately you might not have the internal resources to create the necessary content and images to launch a successful website.  You need to ask, how do you get this content and who's going to own it? This is where many of the intellectual property rights come into play. 

Rights of publicity

The important thing here is to remember to always make sure you obtain the proper rights of publicity.  An online business that is starting and wants to use someone's image must have prior written permission to use that person's image, voice, likeness and name.  There are no exceptions to this rule.  It doesn't just apply just to famous people-it applies to anyone. 

It's important when you draft a release that you get the right to use a person's image, voice or likeness in any media.  That way you could use it in any context that you need to. 

Copyright

Here, the general rule is that unless you are the creator of material, you have to get the license to use material that someone else created.  Otherwise, you must obtain an assignment or a contract for work made for hire. 

It is not enough just to pay people to create that content for you.  You have to get them to assign those rights to you.  Frequently, business owners assume that since they paid for the work, they must own it. This it not always true, so make sure that you have it in writing that you own the content. 

Also, it is important to remember that there is an exception for materials created by employees in the course of their employment.  Basically the idea is to make sure that, if you're getting content, you get a full assignment of all copyright with respect to that content and negotiate in the alternative a royalty free license to be able to use that content anywhere else in the world.

Susan Radde is currently working as Assistant General Counsel for True Value Company.  Ms. Radde has been in house at True Value since 2000.  At True Value, Ms. Radde handles all commercial and intellectual property matters, including maintaining True Value's extensive trademark portfolio consisting of over 400 US and international registrations.  Prior to joining True Value, Ms. Radde worked in house at Interstate Insurance Group, a former subsidiary of Fireman's Fund.  Ms. Radde started her practice at the law firm of Meagher & Geer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she represented insurance companies in litigation with policyholders.

Ms. Radde obtained her Bachelor of Science in Business from the University of Minnesota in 1988 and her Juris Doctorate *** Laude from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1991.  In 1992, she obtained a Master of Laws with Merit from the University of London.  Ms. Radde is admitted to practice in Illinois, Minnesota and is a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales.

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