Expertise in Copyright Law: Our Services
At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our copyright lawyers enforce copyrights on software, product appearances and databases, and have developed particularly effective anti-piracy strategies. We have obtained numerous pre-judgment seizure orders against pirates of computer software, high-technology products, luxury goods, and celebrity merchandise.
However, we also represent consumers and businesses who have received warning letters. Warning letters can be contested. It is not unusual for them to be sent out without full justification. Our copyright lawyers will analyse the issues involved closely and will advise you on your best course of action. However, hiring our lawyers should be completed with sufficient time to make a difference. Copyright warnings, if not appropriately reacted to, can quickly lead to drastic financial consequences. Responding too late to claims can damage your own case.
Once our copyright lawyers are in place and at your side, together we will formulate a strategy using our experience and knowledge in the field as the guiding point. Below, you can find a list of some of our copyright law services:
- License agreements
- Issuing of warning letters
- Responding to warning letters
- Drafting of contracts
- Copyright Litigation
- Enforcement of claims
- Defence against unjustified claims of copyright breach
- Selling or buying of rights of use
- Design rights
- Trademark legal services
What can be Protected under German Copyright Law?
Copyright laws were set up by the legislature to protect the legal and moral rights of creators. As opposed to industrial property rights, the protection kicks in automatically once the work is created, and no special registration is needed. A work enjoys copyright protection when it is a person’s own intellectual creation and demonstrates a sufficient level of originality. The Urheberrechtsgesetz (the German Act on Copyright and Related Rights) codifies the assertion and enforcement of a creator’s (or right-holder’s) rights when dealing with non-entitled users.
Under § 2 Urhg the list for what can be deemed “protected works” is outlined:
- Protected works in the literary, scientific and artistic domain include, in particular:
- Literary works, such as written works, speeches and computer programs;
- Musical works;
- Pantomimic works, including works of dance;
- Artistic works, including works of architecture and of applied art and drafts of such works;
- Photographic works, including works produced by processes similar to photography;
- Cinematographic works, including works produced by processes similar to cinematography;
- Illustrations of a scientific or technical nature, such as drawings, plans, maps, sketches, tables and three-dimensional representations.
- Only the author’s own intellectual creations constitute works within the meaning of this Act.
As can be seen here, there is a wide variety in the creative works which can be granted protection under German copyright law.
The “Right of Use” under German Copyright Law
The creator of the piece is granted extensive control over how the work is used and within this they can grant third parties the “right of use” for their work. Under a licence agreement the scope of such rights of use can be decided upon. According to § 31 UrhG the right of use can be granted as “a non-exclusive right or as an exlusive right” and can also be “limited in respect of place, time or content“. The right to transfer the right of use is also provided for under § 34 UrhG but only with the consent of the author.
Therefore, where a person has the “right of use” for another party’s protected creative work they need to examine the limits and permissions granted under the licence agreement. Where a party seeks to create a licence agreement for such a right of use, our copyright lawyers can provide the guidance needed to create a suitable agreement. Should the “rights of use” for your work have been exceeded, and your work used in an inappropriate manner, then you may have a claim for a contractual penalty and / or damages. Alternatively, it may mean that the licence agreement needs to be reworked. In such a situation it is advisable to work closely with our copyright lawyers to find the best solution.
Creators, publishers and owners often require legal representation to protect their material. Now that we know what can be considered protected material it is important to know what steps are required to secure it. Claims for injunctions and damages are of particular importance in this context. The creator can rely on many methods to assert their rights, which range from a warning made out of court to proceedings in the form of an application for an injunction or a substantive hearing. Our lawyers will be by your side both in- and out of court. We will analyse your case and work together to ensure you receive comprehensive legal counsel.
When copyright litigation becomes a business reality, secure your work with us. At Schlun & Elseven, we have a dedicated intellectual property team who work with corporate clients of various sizes in order to protect their copyright. Where possible, and where our client deems it appropriate, we will seek an out of court resolution to cases. Out of court solutions tend to be time efficient as well as cost-saving. However, out of court solutions are not always possible. In such instances our copyright lawyers will be by your side and providing expert representation before the courts.
Our lawyers also work with firms who have been accused of copyright breaches. It is not unusual for copyright claims to be unjustified, either in substance or as regards the amount of the damages sought. Our lawyers have represented both sides of the conflict, meaning that we can advise you competently on potentially unjustified or exaggerated claims and copyright warnings. Contact us today for more specialised advice.