Tuesday, January 29, 2008
1. Getting a certificate of copyright registration for a cease and desist letter is not very hard. The hurdles for federal registration are fairly low and a cease and desist letter may meet those standards.
2. Enforcing copyright in C&D letters is difficult because of the merger doctrine. Copyright law will not protect a work if there are a limited number of ways of expressing the underlying idea. (And how many ways are there to say cease and desist?)
3. Reproduction of letters may be permitted under fair use principles. Infringing activity is often permitted for the sake of commentary and/or criticism.
Anyway, I certainly hope nobody puts a chill on republication of C&D letters. They are a great source of amusement and sometimes a matter of national security. And, for lawyers like me, it's often the only way to get published.
Posted by The Dear Rich Staff at 11:06 AM
Monday, January 28, 2008
So why bother including one? It's mostly a matter of wishful thinking--that is, making a statement that an email is confidential may trick the recipient into believing it is confidential. (Another reason to use them is in the hope that yours will enter the Stupid Email Disclaimer hall of fame.)
Posted by The Dear Rich Staff at 11:09 AM
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Start with the principle that the underlying ideas for games are usually not protected. For example, many companies have created online games based on hangman, but you'll run into a problem if your hangman game is expressed in the same way as Wheel of Fortune. To lower the odds of becoming a defendant in a lawsuit, do the following:
Don't use a name that's similar to a popular game. Stepping on the trademark of a game (particularly a famous one) is a surefire way to get dragged into court (although, occasionally the results are suprising).
Avoid copying the appearance of the packaging. Game companies feel the same way about their trade dress as they do about their trademarks (Just ask the makers of Sexual Pursuit).
Don't copy text or artwork from the game. In that case you'll be stepping on someone's copyright and unless your use is excusable under fair use or similar principles, judges may not be sympathetic. However, the copyright in some board games, such as Scrabble, may be 'thin' and harder to protect.
Check to see whether the game is patented. Yes, some games are protected under utility patent and design patent laws. Patent infringement lawsuits are a real drag, so check it out before your game goes live.
Move to a country where it's unlikely the game company will want to sue you. Unfortunately, in today's global village, that's becoming harder and harder to do.
Posted by The Dear Rich Staff at 11:08 AM
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Posted by The Dear Rich Staff at 9:37 AM
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
What was different about the monster line? The Count and his buddies signaled a minor change in the intellectual property approach of breakfast food makers - moving from the historically positive nutrition claims and brand-positive marks (think Wheaties -- Breakfast of Champions) to bad-boy branding and an openly 'who cares' attitude about nutrition.
Can a vampire-derived sugar-laden cereal survive in 2007? Of course, the Count has had to adapt. He began to take on a healthy glow proclaiming he was fortified with eight essential vitamins. And in 2007, the back of the packaging -- in what is referred to by nutritionists as 'wheat-washing' -- included a scientific-looking questionnaire about diet and health while the front of the box proclaimed that Count Chocula was 'Made with Whole Grain'. (I guess 'Made with Whole Marshmallows' wasn't going to fly.)