Copyright or Patent
I am NOT an attorney. This is my opinion based on experience.
However painful as it may have been.
There used to be a very unique style of necklace chain. More than
200 years old and named after the shipwright who fashioned an actual
ship anchor chain into a jewelry necklace chain. Boating had become
slow and he needed another source of income. Thus jewelry. The link
became popular worldwide and was named after him. The chain making
machines that carried his name and the catalogs from manufacturers
listed the style as GUxxx 40-280 in relation to size. (as a part of
the settlement I am not allowed to use the name in print). Along
comes a modern marketing company with a team of lawyers, they
copyright and patent all rights to this name and go after every
retailer that advertises it, every wholesaler that offers it and
every manufacturer that nameplates the machine. In one day history is
The term is no longer allowed to be used as the name now belongs to
the marketing company brand name. I supplied 50 year old catalogs,
pictures of 100 year old chain making machines with the name plates.
It did not matter.
I was in violation of advertising someone else’s copyright. Once
they were awarded the copyright, any previous claim or use was
Just this week a major retailer was awarded the patent of taking a
photographic image of an item for sale with a white background. Will
that stop everyone? No. Will other marketing sites have to pay a
royalty? Maybe. I’m not a lawyer. They also own the patent on one
click shopping carts and royalties are paid and enforced.
A company in France owns the US patent on white metal jewelry
fashioned to look like cable. You know, twisted strands of wire. A US
company owns the patent on yellow metal. He thought he owned the
patent on white metal as well, but found out when every retailer was
When you have a copyright or patent, you are also legally bound to
protect and enforce it. You are required to search out others that
are using it or copying it and notify them in writing of the
violation. If you do not, it may be able to be proved you abandoned
it. From the way it was explained to me, simply notifying them in
writing protects you from an abandonment claim.
If someone is openly and uncontested using your design, it might be
difficult to enforce your copyright. Again, I’m not an attorney,
just pay for them. You can spend tens of thousands of dollars to
prove you are correct. Or a few thousand and settle and get on to the
I am not advising anyone what to do or how to protect themselves.
Proving ‘when’ a person first came up with the idea may be easy, it
may not be.
Every single forum posting, web page, image or anything that is
posted to or through the internet is archived. You cannot go back and
change something as they are time stamped.
Copyright is a huge issue right now. Web page code, CAD code, CAM
code, photographic images, Tiffxxx style prongs, anti-tarnish silver,
remember when we could photocopy a magazine article or recipe!
I am in the USA and this applies to US law as the courts have
Every country has their own laws. If you retail something that is
manufactured in another country but the design violates a US
copyright, then you may be found in the wrong. It will cost you. The
manufacturer in the other country has done nothing wrong. The largest
marketing companies have the largest pool of attorneys. The best
brand names are in the business of creating business, not designs.