While looking for something completely different, the IPKat stumbled across the website of an organisation calling itself This enterprise offers, for a fee, to register receipt of works and to store them for five years so that they can be said to be in existence at a specific point of time. As the site says:
"Difficulties arise where each party claims to have produced the work before the other and thereby be the originator of the work. Attempting to resolve such disputes may involve legal proceedings. It is ultimately a matter for the courts to decide. Without independent evidence a court will have to rely upon the rather more subjective evidence of the parties.

This is where copyright registration is important. The registration of copyright provides independent witness as to the existence of the work, at a clear point in time. A Certificate of Registration is usually sufficient evidence. However, in the event that further evidence is required, copyright registration should, once again be able to provide this, in the form of a sworn affidavit.

At, we would recommend withdrawing a copy of your registered work from the vault and arranging for a Director of Copyrightvault Ltd to swear an affidavit in front of a solicitor, at the time of withdrawal, confirming the date of registration, and the date of withdrawal of the work, and exhibiting the Certificate of Registration".
The FAQs concede that registration of a work is not a prerequisite for copyright protection:

"Does copyright have to be registered?

No, copyright does not have to be registered. However in the event of a dispute, a successful outcome will depend on proving ownership and content of the work at a particular point in time. Registration proves that on a certain date you deposited the registered item with an independent witness agent,, who specialise in the secure storage of copyright material, and who are willing to swear an affidavit that the item cannot have been interfered with by any interested party".

This answer does not make the IPKat very happy. This is partly because the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 contains a number of presumptions (see e.g. sections 104, 105) that are very rarely challenged and partly because the deposit or registration of a work does not in any event constitute "proving ownership", or indeed authorship.

The website also offers to put users in touch with a member of its panel of (unnamed) solicitors, each of whom will apparently provide ten minutes advice free of charge if you complete the enquiry form and send it back to (if you click any of the zones into which a map of the British Isles is divided, in the hope of obtaining a list of names of local solicitors, you will receive a "coming soon" message - but nothing more).

The site is linked from the Department of Trade and Industry's Businesslink pages, which suggests that it has some official approval. It's also linked to a site called Copy Right Notice that bears the bizarre kitty-lit message:
"Definition of a copy right notice is the patents are concerned with the technical and functional aspects of products and processes".
The IPKat wonders, have any of his readers had any experiences of that they can share with him? He can't help being a little suspicious and would welcome anything that puts his mind to rest. Merpel adds, would probably need to receive quite a volume of business to make the whole exercise worthwhile. And if it's profitable, she'd expect some serious competition.
DOES ANYONE OUT THERE KNOW OF ... DOES ANYONE OUT THERE KNOW OF ... Reviewed by Jeremy on Tuesday, March 21, 2006 Rating: 5


Anonymous said...

A quick search on Companies House reveals that the registered office of Copyright Vault Ltd is


so you could try asking them for further info. . .

It may very well be profitable. As anyone involved in IP litigation knows, there are a lot of third rate creatives out there convinced that their piece of junk was in stolen by successful [author/game show producer/musician/artist] (delete as applicable) and was in fact the original [Blockbuster/Chart Topper/Prize winning painting]. All these desperados will be only too glad to part with a tenner to ensure ( as they think, in their little world) that their claim to the future royalties of the thieving corporation is cast iron.

Jeff Arlington said...

I have been using another service for a couple of years called who do an 'electronic' means of registration whereby no affidavit needs to be 'sworn' if there is a problem as to the registration. They use encryption along with digital fingerprints and digital signatures to register the IP. The laws surrounding the use of digital signatures to register the work are implemented nearly world wide - in other words most 'modern' countries have adapted them into their legal system - strangely enough even China implemented these laws last year!! In any case this means that the form of registration can hold up in a court of law in most countries should the origin of the IP be contested. Not all countries follow UK copyright law so this is not a bad thing to have.
Another point is the USA. In some cases regarding IP registration (not all) the USA shout - 'BUT IT HAS TO REGISTERED ON AMERICAN SOIL'!! File-Reg have found a way around this by placing registration servers in the USA and if you want to register there - no problem - your registration occurs on American soil!

Since most countries who have adapted the digital signature laws have either used the EU version of these laws or the American version (ESIGN law), registering in on both continents can cover you pretty much world wide. Again without the need of someone swearing an affidavit for your registration.
The system even falls within FDA regulations (for the registering scientific research), and many scientists and universities use the system.

One of the important points of the system is that nothing that is registered can be seen, read or recompiled by anyone – even by the people at file-reg. You can look at the process this way - you cannot recreate the face of a person by their fingerprint – therefore you cannot recreate a registered file by its fingerprint – which is also encrypted and digitally signed. I think it’s an ingenious solution

If you do have a judicial conflict and a judge needs to see the evidence of the registration and the method of registration then File-Reg will turn up and provide the evidence for free - however the evidence can be presented in a court without the need for anyone from File-Reg to show up.

Not only do they have but also and which generally use the same system only the info provided on these sites is more suited to those particular industries, and as far as I know the system is being used worldwide. They even sponsored technology competitions at the Institute of Technology in India.

Indeed there are a lot of question marks about 'not needing to prove copyright' but if you do have a conflict whereby you say 'that’s mine' and the other guy stole it……you WILL have to be able to prove it. Getting a lawyer in to sort that out for you and help build up your trail of evidence will cost a lot more then the cost of a registration - even if it was 500 pounds to register! - it actually costs 10 pounds to register and a 20 pound membership fee.

Last year File-Reg carried out a survey among British advertising agencies (my field) to see how many had problems with plagiarism. It turns out that 37% have been victim of plagiarism but very few took any of the culprits to court because of all the hassle involved in trying to prove they thought it up in the first place.
I strongly believe that if everyone could register their IP at the push of a button like you can at file-reg the problem would disappear within weeks – and maybe the price would come down as well!!

I think it's time something like this was used by everyone - then it would put a lot of lawyers out of business and save us all a lot of money!
Agreed nothing is perfect, even an online registration system – but it is always better then having nothing at all!

Toby Headdon said...

Rather than wasting money on these services, simply ensure that you keep a comprehensive record of all documents (e.g. dated design documents) relating to your copyright work. This will provide evidence of the date of creation. To corroborate the veracity of your documents, it is cheaper to post them to yourself - the price of the postage compares favourably with the fees charged by so-called "registration" services. This will avoid unnecessary lawyers fees as much as any such "registration".

The lure of such a "registration", which is nothing of the kind understood by IP lawyers, is a device which plays on the ignorance of users of such services.

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