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Copyright my line?


#1

Hello all,

Could anyone share any personal insight or experiences to answer my
questions?

I have designed a line of jewelry that I would like to duplicate and
market to teens and young adults. I think the mode of sale that I
will use to distribute this line of jewelry and the concept behind
the line itself is pretty unique, so before I employ a company to
cast them for me, I was wondering what steps I should take to
protect my work? Should I copyright the whole line (10 pieces all
together)? Should I request that the casting company sign a
non-disclosure contract of some sort? As to the mode of sale, should
I seek a patent? I’ve seen other website which have done this. With
out going into great detail I basically allow people to make some
personal choices and in a sense “design” their piece before they
place the order online. I know once I put my website up that the
idea I have will have a good chance of being ripped off so I want to
protect it for as long as I can if possible.

Just some background about what started me thinking
about this…On another jewelery making forum someone was explaining
how they had employed a casting company (in China) to create limited
editions from a pendant they designed. They later found out the
company was offering their design as a stock pendant that anyone
could purchase directly from the company. Despite all efforts they
were not able to stop the company from continuing to reproduce their
work.


#2

Ok this part I know save yourself a ton of money and register the
entire line under one group name. Individual pieces may be
copyrighted at the same time if they are part of a series.

Example

Teen Grunge Fun series The ultimate grunge series containing hip hop
hugger earrings, bigbuster bracelets etc

I am doing a teen line too but cannot afford to copyright it yet
though luckily no other party is going to touch them they go straight
from me to retailer or to shows.

All I have to do under law is advertise them in a print and once I
earn money (hopefully crossing fingers) from sales I can get the
copyright official. But every work of art in any media now is owned
in the USA by the artist . Outshipping to other countries is tricky
as the International copyright laws are amazingly complicated. If you
are outsourcing get a copyright lawyer spend the 100-500 depending on
your region for a consult and contract for casting firm.

Lawyers are necessary unfortunately at times, but then think of the
heartache and stress saved in the future.

Teri
America’s Only cameo Artist
www.cameoartist.com


#3

Do you have the resources to enforce your copyright or patent? Just
having one does not stop people from copying your work, you have to
enforce it on your dime. Talk with an intellectual properties
attorney and get the real story, do not rely on the hearsay of a
bunch of jewelers.

Daniel J. Statman, Statman Designs
www.statmandesigns.com
@Statman_Designs_LLC


#4

Hi SC,

Having recently taken a seminar entitled “Protecting Your Brand-
Trademark Policing Strategies and How to Avoid Litigation”. There
are many ways to protect design. One is the copyright method
(www.copyright.gov). There is also a business patent method (e.g…
Amazon.com patented their one click order system) which may also be
applicable. And there is Design Patents which I believe have been
discussed recently on the orchid list and you mentioned.

From your description is sounds like the Design Patent (US Patent
Office) would be the most applicable.

However, what I got out of this seminar is…

What it comes down to is how much time and resources (i.e. money)
you are willing to commit to protect the brand, design etc.

– AND –

Not all countries recognize a US patent or copyright (like China) so
you’ll need to patent and or copyright them in multiple countries if
you think this will be an international item. But enforcement is
still the issue.

If I had an idea I thought would be worth $500K or more I would
probably consult an attorney who was familiar with this area and ask
advice. Otherwise it might not be cost effective.

Oh I should add that all work is copyrighted. But filing a copyright
notice with the copyright office allows a person/company to seek
redress in attorney’s fees and damages if infringed upon. It also
provides the legal grounds to prevent importation of infringing goods
(at least I think that is the case).

And that is my $.02 worth. Hope it was helpful,

Heather.


#5

A note on doing business with China - there are MAJOR cultural
differences that come into play. My husband has been doing a large
quantity of business with China for quite a few years, and the first
two were horrible. He learned that it is perfectly acceptable, even
expected, that they promise what you want, and deliver what you get.
And the two are not the same. They do not have the same quality
control concepts we do, nor the same “ownership” values.

Copying a design and selling it would be “good business” to many in
China - not a theft of property.

My husband finally found a company that understood, and was willing
to actually produce, what he wanted - and he buys their entire
production, so the whole factory is set up to his specifications.

So it is possible to find a business that will deal with you in a
"western" way - just be very, very, very careful! And don’t look at
it as you would if you were working with a western company. Their
entire frame of reference is different - you have to allow for this.
You can’t “judge” according to western standards - they simply don’t
apply.

Beth in SC


#6

What ever you have, if it is a good idea will eventually be knocked
off in one way or another. I would guess, since you are marketing
to teens and young adults, that your work will be mostly in silver
and you would probably pay more for your patents than for your
pieces. I would suggest getting your work to market as soon as
possible, that way you will at least be able to say you were the
first, stay ahead of the competition, and be able to work on your
next ground breaking idea. I assure you, you are not the first to
think “WHOLEY CRAP! I’V GOT IT!”


#7

You can read my www.idearights.com web site and the info it links to
but the bottom line is you need to consult with a good IP attorney.
Copyright only applies to artistic expression in a “fixed form” in
the case of jewelry—yours may not apply if it is the buyer that
creates the “fixed” form. Copyright is automatic but you can also
register it. You still must enforce it yourself. There might also be
some question whether it applies since your stuff includes further
"expression" by the buyer.

Concepts aren’t patentable subject matter. But if you have a
specific enough embodiment or process and utility then maybe a
utility patent is appropriate. The odds of a design patent being of
any value when your parts have interconnecting functionality that
allows buyer selection are, I would guess, pretty low since design
patents only protect “ornamental design” AS SHOWN in the issued
design patent. Business methods of sufficient novelty and
non-obviousness are, in fact, patentable but again you must enforce
the patent yourself.

And, yes, China is a problem though they are a party to the major
international copyright conventions (Berne and Paris but not WCT
yet). However many of their people believe getting away with
violating the law is OK though that is slowly changing as the
government is improving efforts at enforcement.

James E. White
Inventor, Marketer, and Author of “Will It Sell? How to Determine If
Your Invention Is Profitably Marketable (Before Wasting Money on a
Patent)” Info Sites: www.willitsell.com www.inventorhome.com,
www.idearights.com www.taletyano.com www.booksforinventors.com


#8

I’m no expert in this field, but I did ponder these same questions
before launching my own line of jewelry based on a unique idea and
technique.

Should I request that the casting company sign a non-disclosure
contract of some sort? 

If you go with a reputable casting company (preferably one on your
own home soil), this should not be necessary. Most casters I have
considered (all in the U.S.) make a point of declaring total
confidentiality on their websitesor in their ads. Good casters know
that they will fail miserably or be subjected to crippling lawsuits
if they breach this contract of trust with their clients. If you have
any doubts, ask them point-blank about their policies.

I considered patenting my design and process, but discovered the
patent process to be convoluted, difficult, and potentially more
expensive than it’s worth. Rather, make a point of putting copyright
symbols all over your website, catalogs or brochures, and your work
itself. I’m fairly sure that if you sign your work or stamp it with a
hallmark, this serves the same purpose as a copyright symbol. (I
know this is the case for other works of art, but not dead certain it
applies the same way to jewelry, even art jewelry; I too would
appreciate input here!)

Perhaps most importantly, make sure that your idea truly is new and
unique–research it carefully before launching it. The more original
the idea and the more intricate the process behind it, the harder it
will be to rip it off.

Jessee Smith
www.silverspotstudio.com


#9
    Ok this part I know save yourself a ton of money and register
the entire line under one group name. Individual pieces may be
copyrighted at the same time if they are part of a series. 

A ton of money? Hardly. But fully understand the law when copyright
registering a group. The real devil will be in what you are willing
to, and can, enforce.

    I am doing a teen line too but cannot afford to copyright it
yet 

Huh, what can’t you afford, it’s FREE. You own the copyright the
instant you put the first one in fixed form. Now are subsequent ones
actually copies or derived works or actually more new creations.
That’s a real issue that may severely limit what you can enforce. And
you should provide notice too, there are special rules for that
specifically for jewelry.

    All I have to do under law is advertise them in a print 

Pure BUNK!

and once I earn money (hopefully crossing fingers) from sales I can
get the copyright official. 

It’s already “official,” just not registered.

But every work of art in any media now is owned in the USA by the
artist . 

This is quite FALSE as a general statement. In the instance of an
independent person creator using their own materials and in the
absence of any agreement otherwise, the copyright, and the work, are
owned by the creator—but there are lots of situations where neither
the work nor the copyright will be owned by the artist.

    as the International copyright laws are amazingly complicated. 

Actually, via the Berne and Paris Conventions, and the slowly
gaining WCT, they are relatively simple compared to say individual
country trade laws…

James E. White


#10

I saw a fascinating television piece on China, maybe on 60 minutes?
can’t remember. But it was all about counterfeit products. They said
that it is so commonplace. And that companies having production done
there for the cheap labor are basically making that trade-off. They
showed authorities busting some small counterfeiting factories and
products being seized. But the laws are mostly un-enforced. My
favorite part of the piece was where they were showing counterfeit
products out in the shops. There were some “Snoopy” knock-offs. On
these bags they managed to get the dog right but the name said
"Spoony"! No one seemed to know the difference. Very funny! It was
just a very interesting view of how different the culture of
business there is and the consumers. The consumers seemed to love
many western products, whether they were original or knock-offs did
not seem to matter.

-Carrie Nunes


#11
    Oh I should add that all work is copyrighted. 

Well, not all “work.” But works of artistic expression are.

But filing a copyright notice with the copyright office 

You don’t “file notice” with the Copyright Office, you REGISTER your
copyright with them. You provide notice by using “Copyright [or
C-in-a-circle] year name” (or appropriate abbreviated version for
jewelry) on (generally) the item or its tangible form. The work, the
copyright (and its various separate rights), the notice, the
registration, and the enforcement are all related but, make no
mistake, each separate concepts.

allows a person/company to seek redress in attorney's fees and
damages if infringed upon. 

You do have some rights without registration but you have more and
better ones with registration and they are better still if the
registration is done within 3 months of first “publication,” whatever
that might legally mean in the case of a jewelry work, and/or before
infringement and/or before suit. The law is specifically written to
encourage proper notification and timely registration but it doesn’t
leave you out in the cold completely if you don’t.

It also provides the legal grounds to prevent importation of
infringing goods (at least I think that is the case). 

Yes, you can get Customs to (hopefully) stop importation of
infringing goods but first you must get an exclusion order issued to
them by the U.S. International Trade Commission and that can only be
done AFTER you’ve first made your own attempts to stop the
infringement (and you do a bunch of government paperwork).

James E. White
Inventor, Marketer, and Author of “Will It Sell? How to Determine If
Your Invention Is Profitably Marketable (Before Wasting Money on a
Patent)” Info Sites: www.willitsell.com www.inventorhome.com,
www.idearights.com www.taletyano.com www.booksforinventors.com


#12

Hi James

Getting a bit literally picky aren’t we your reply to my email is umm
rude… why don’t you try being assertive instead of aggressive? I
would appreciate it greatly.

I work within visual arts and have to deal with copyright registry
all the time and while the initial copyright is inherent on moment of
creation 30 dollars a piece to register each work is a LOT of money
to me. Considering I am a highly prolific artist and create 50-80
drawings a year. So don’t dismiss others because of your own
situation. Not everyone views $30 per item to register as pocket
change. I just wanted to point out that the best way to register a
group of similiar pieces is in a series.

So I would appreciate some common courteousy even if you believe
what I have to say is “pure bunk”. I don’t proclaim to know
everything. Seems to me others should try that notion on some time.

Teri
America’s Only cameo Artist
www.cameoartist.com


#13
    I work within visual arts and have to deal with copyright
registry all the time 

So you can tell us some specific examples of these VA (or less
probable, SE) registrations? The Copyright Office has no record of
such under your name “Teri (A.) Davis” as either author or claimant.
The closest possible registration found was a TX for “Breaking the
ice : a Biblically based guide to anger management” by a Teresa Davis
(I didn’t check Books In Print but I couldn’t find it on Amazon).

    change. I just wanted to point out that the best way to
register a group of similiar pieces is in a series. 

Unfortunately this is generally NOT true. There are very specific
rules for “series” (VA and other types distinctly) and for (VA)
UNPUBLISHED “groups.” And I have no doubt that should a party appear
to properly fill out a form and meet the requirements the Copyright
Office will happily accept it with the check. But the "Registration"
system is just that, a REGISTRATION system, not an APPROVAL system so
it is quite possible to get a certificate that is quite invalid and
useless when it comes to putting on a court challenge. In fact the
registration record for the TX work noted above explicitly notes the
registration was done DESPITE an incomplete form.

    So I would appreciate some common courteousy even if you
believe what I have to say is "pure bunk". I don't proclaim to know
everything. Seems to me others should try that notion on some
time. 

I don’t claim to know everything either which is why you won’t see
me posting on soldering or gold alloys or jeweler tools or… But
when I do post what I (think I know) I make certain it’s as accurate
as I can make it and not just a popped-off belief. And, yes, I do
make it a point to NOT be misunderstood by parties that post BUNK or
the parties reading the BUNK. Perhaps, however, you could (politely,
of course) suggest ways to point out BUNK that will be courteous and
still get the point across to all and will make such posters think
twice before posting such BUNK in the future. Your help will be
greatly appreciated. Thanks.

James E. White
Inventor, Marketer, and Author of “Will It Sell? How to Determine If
Your Invention Is Profitably Marketable (Before Wasting Money on a
Patent)” Info Sites: www.willitsell.com www.inventorhome.com,
www.idearights.com www.taletyano.com www.booksforinventors.com