Footers on Your Presentations Aren’t Irrelevant

So, I’m not your lawyer, but…

I’ve seen many presentations over the past day or so that have been missing some crucial legal boilerplate.

Copyright:   Any time you give a PowerPoint/Keynote, etc. presentation the footer should read “(C) 200X ‘Company Name’ Proprietary and Confidential” where X is the year that you are claiming protection.

It’s technically true that you don’t have to have a copyright notice to claim protection of the IP that you created under U.S. law.  The problem is without putting people on notice, you may lose your ability to say they’ve purposely infringed.  Also, the year is crucial because without the notice, you may end up getting into a fight about “who created something first” if someone is trying to steal your ideas and thoughts.  It takes two seconds to put a notice and may save you many headaches later.  If you think about all of the cases that one hears of Company X stealing Company Y’s idea, my bet is that there is a lot of legal discovery on presentations, because that’s what most people start with when building a company – the idea, not the actual execution.

Trademark:  If you have a name / logo and want to protect it, you must include “TM” in superscript after your mark, or your are not protecting it.  If you’ve registered with the PTO, you can utilize the (R) superscript, but otherwise, you must use “TM”.

Boring post, I’m sorry, but after three days of seeing many presentations not conform to these rules, I thought that I should mention.

UPDATE: Thanks to reader Maria for sending along an updated link to the Copyright Basics