Quick Take: Your Primer on the CASE Act & Protecting Small Business

July 29, 2019

"Copyright" red rubber stamp.

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This week, illustrators, photographers, writers, entrepreneurs, and other small business owners in the creative industry will visit with lawmakers and administration officials in Washington, D.C. in support of a bipartisan solution for Main Street businesses to defend their intellectual property.

While the American system of copyright law was designed to protect the livelihood of these entrepreneurs, defending copyrights has become too expensive and burdensome for many small business owners to pursue when there is a threat to their intellectual property. If small businesses can’t afford to protect their brain trust, they risk revenue loss and even going out of business.

In order to solve this challenge, Congress is considering the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act, or the CASE Act, which would create a small claims court that allows small businesses to defend their copyrights.

Why does it matter:

The CASE Act creates a modernized solution for a persistent problem faced by so many small businesses. It enables a layer of protection for the entrepreneurial spirit of small businesses and would encourage American business owners to continue to create, innovate, and design without fear of having their intellectual property stolen without recourse.

The CASE Act would create a more efficient, streamlined process than currently exists in federal court – lowering the cost burden for small business owners. For example, unlike federal court, attorneys and in-person appearances would not be necessary and discovery would be extremely limited.

Numbers to know:

  • 79%. According to a U.S. Congress Joint Committee report, “The Impact of IP Theft on the Economy“, small businesses represent 79% of all U.S. businesses, however they make up only 10.5% of all firms filing complaints regarding IP infringement.
  • 2,000-3,000. According to the U.S. Copyright Office report, “Copyright Small Claims,” between 2,000 and 3,000 copyright complaints are filed annually in the U.S. district courts. However, that number significantly underrepresents the number of cases copyright owners would choose to bring if the system wasn’t as difficult or expensive to utilize.
  • $350K. The cost of litigating a copyright infringement lawsuit with less than $1 million at stake is approximately $350,000 – a significant cost for most small businesses.

Our take:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports the CASE Act, a bipartisan approach and solution to protect businesses of all sizes. Small businesses make up a significant portion of the economy and provide jobs for American workers. Without proper IP recourse for these small business owners, creative entrepreneurs will be stifled – which would be a significant loss for the economy and for consumers.