Thursday, July 29, 2010

Patenting Illustration Ideas: Not!

Dear Rich: I am in the process of illustrating a book for a friend. I had some ideas about the illustrations and my friend said she would have to patent it right away. This is my idea, so shouldn't I patent it? Should we do it together? How do I go about getting a patent for my illustration ideas? We recently learned that 82% of our blog visitors are coming for the first time. Hmmm...Perhaps that's why we get so many questions from people asking about whether they can dress as Spiderman for children's parties or use Lindsay Lohan quotes at their website. Any of our regular readers (18% or less of our viewers) already know that book illustrations are not protected by patents ... and that copyright doesn't protect ideas. So how do we answer this question without boring our regulars? Uh ... We'll have to think about that ...
Right, you had a question. Although the Dear Rich staff once co-wrote a book about patenting art and entertainment and although we love our co-author's attempts at carving new worlds of patent protection, we can safely say that there is no way you can patent illustrations used in a book. You can, however, acquire copyright in the illustrations. And unless you are an employee, or you signed away rights, or you are co-authoring the book with your friend, you will likely retain the complete copyright to the illustrations without having to do anything. As for your "ideas," for illustrations, we're not sure what you mean but in general ideas can't be protected by copyright.