Q: I have a collection of Old Farmer's Almanacs from the mid to late 1800s and I'm interested in selling reproductions.
My concern is that even though they're in the public domain, they are still published today using the same basic format and design. Can I legally reproduce the old versions? The Farmers Almanac website acts is if they own all of them in perpetuity. http://www.almanac.com/content/may-i-reproduce-reprint-publish-license-or-use-almanac-content
There are other intellectual property rights involved here. These include trademark, trade name, trade dress, and potentially general unfair competition claims. All of these claims have no expiration date in which they become public domain (a concept that only applies to copyrights and patents).
If you intend to create and sell reproductions you should contact (and pay for) an attorney to review the intended use. Also be aware that even if you ultimately have a legitimate use, an intellectual property lawsuit at the federal level costs tens of thousands of dollars to defend (with a low likelihood of a successful defender gaining attorney's fees). In short, proceed with caution and have a lawyer review your idea before you start selling anything.
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