Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Posted by The Dear Rich Staff at 9:29 AM
If your search for the new owner proves unfruitful, then you have to decide whether you want to proceed without authorization. Even if you are a founder of Google, unauthorized book reproductions will place you in line for a copyright lawsuit. Your two primary concerns are: 1) the likelihood of discovery, and 2) your legal liability. We can't guess at whether your use will be discovered, but the Dear Rich staff can tell you that your liability would include your legal costs, the copyright owner's actual damages, and any additional profits you've earned (unless there is a registration, in which case the damages would be statutory and based on the judge's discretion). In a worst-case scenario, you may have to pay the other side's attorney fees.
Posted by The Dear Rich Staff at 9:28 AM
Friday, March 27, 2009
Posted by The Dear Rich Staff at 9:30 AM
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Ennnyway. Sorry, to bore you with all that. As for the legal rules regarding the reproduction of celebrity images on clothing: (1) Celebrities control how their images or names are used on merchandise based on a principle known as the right of publicity. And unless you're modifying the image so much that the celebrity is unrecognizable (or you have the celebrity's authorization), you are violating the law. (2) The owner of copyright for the photo (usually the photographer) may also have a claim against you under copyright law. As you may know from the news, the measurement of infringement (and fair use) for altered photos is not always clear.
Posted by The Dear Rich Staff at 9:32 AM
Monday, March 23, 2009
You already have a copyright on each golf sculpture. (You get it once you create the work.) But you will receive additional rights and benefits if you register your creations. The Copyright Office offers lots of helpful advice on sculptural works.
It's possible that your creations may qualify for a design patent. Design patents are different than the patents we usually discuss (utility patents). In general, a design patent is strictly about appearances -- that is, it's granted for the ornamental or aesthetic elements of a device; a utility patent is about usefulness -- that is, it's granted because of what the invention accomplishes. In addition, a design patent lasts only 14 years from the date it's issued; a utility patent is valid for 20 years from the date of filing. A big difference between copyrights and design patents is that in a design patent infringement case, you do not need to prove that the other party copied your work, only that the two works are substantially similar. Despite that, design patents have a reputation as being more difficult to enforce.
The major concern that the Dear Rich staff has is that design patents are intended to protect ornamental designs for functional objects. (That's why the largest design patent portfolios are owned by companies such as Nike, Reebok, Nokia, and Toshiba.) But what is a functional article? Is a sculpture functional? Traditionally, the USPTO has maintained that ornamentation and usefulness are two separate attributes. Despite that claim, the USPTO has granted design patents to kinetic sculpture under the theory that the parts of the sculpture that move -- that is, the mobile aspects -- qualify as a functional object. That's the case even though common sense tell us that a purchaser is buying it purely because of its appearance. Therefore, because of the time it takes to acquire the design patent, the filing costs, as well as the possible objections from a patent office examiner (we're not familiar with the functionality of your sculptures), you may want to rely solely on copyright protection rather than seek a design patent. (By the way, we once co-wrote a relatively unpopular book on the subject of patenting art that explains how to file for a design patent.)
Posted by The Dear Rich Staff at 9:33 AM
Friday, March 20, 2009
Posted by The Dear Rich Staff at 9:34 AM
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Posted by The Dear Rich Staff at 9:35 AM
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
For example, an alien stranded on earth is a popular and recurring character and by itself, without embellishment, is not protectible. But when that character has a distinctive appearance and demeanor (for example, as seen in My Favorite Martian or The Man Who Fell to Earth) or a distinctive lexicon (for example, he repeats the phrase, "Phone Home") then the character is likely to be protected. Trademark protection is also available for characters, but the Dear Rich staff would recommend that you wait until the puppets are earning money before you pay the $300+ filing fee (per puppet per class of goods). (Always keep in mind that your trademark registration is intended only to provide rights in the class of goods or services that you register.)
Posted by The Dear Rich Staff at 9:38 AM
I'm so glad you asked. The Dear Rich staff wishes it didn't have to use mitigated speech, but the short answer is that you probably don't need clearance to reproduce drawings from published patents. According to the U.S. Patent Office, subject to some exceptions, "the text and drawings of a patent are typically not subject to copyright restrictions."
Posted by The Dear Rich Staff at 9:37 AM
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Posted by The Dear Rich Staff at 9:40 AM
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Posted by The Dear Rich Staff at 9:42 AM
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Posted by The Dear Rich Staff at 9:43 AM
Monday, March 2, 2009
Posted by The Dear Rich Staff at 9:44 AM