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Washington Copyright Questions & Answers
1 Answer | Asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Washington on
Q: I'm an artist who is using portraits from historic photos for which copyright is difficult to determine.

The photos have generally been captured from online sites such as Pinterest or general historic photo searches. Specifically I'm plucking images of people from the internet, printing them on my home computer, physically cutting them out of their original setting and collaging them into bigger art... Read more »

Marcos Garciaacosta
Marcos Garciaacosta answered on Sep 9, 2019

You are facing a tough issue. You should definitely talk to an attorney. Also check with an insurance company agent covering copyright violations. They may have some clear cut criteria you can use as a guide.

In general there are several layers of rights. Pintrest and the poster could have...
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1 Answer | Asked in Copyright and Patents (Intellectual Property) for Washington on
Q: Do you know anything about these pattends ? Where are the loop holes or?

Im looking to start my own company in trip hazard removal but it seems they have pattebded alot of things on it what exactly are there pattends for and what do they mean in other words what do i follow so i dont use any of there pattends

Peter D. Mlynek
Peter D. Mlynek answered on May 11, 2019

There are no easy answers to your question. You need to hire a patent attorney to guide you through this.

1 Answer | Asked in Copyright and Trademark for Washington on
Q: Can I use a well-known Guru's teaching concepts and unlicensed verbiage to create an income producing website?

That's it in a nutshell. I want to use said Guru's concepts and some lose verbiage so I can advertise and gain traction in the community of people that follow her. I found a list of the company's trademarks and none include the terms I want to use. I would not be selling the concepts, just using... Read more »

Ahaji Kirk Amos
Ahaji Kirk Amos answered on May 2, 2019

I think you can, so long as you don't use his language or any materials or publications.

1 Answer | Asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Washington on
Q: What is the process for requesting permission to use Robert Indiana's LOVE to raise funds for a non-profit maker space?

We would like to open a non-profit maker space to offer STEAM Camps for students in Washington, DC. We would like to sell products, derived from Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture, made by students and members, to raise $20,000-40,000 to cover the first few months of rent.

We would... Read more »

Marcos Garciaacosta
Marcos Garciaacosta answered on Mar 13, 2019

You should look up him, or his agent. And ask for the right to use it.

2 Answers | Asked in Consumer Law, Contracts, Copyright and Products Liability for Washington on
Q: How do I go about looking into a idea I have that's related to bail bonds and something I want to possibly invent safely

I have a idea that would be something you can pay into with a bailbonds company and want to look in to making this idea work if its possible and so how would I do that without getting my idea stolen but I don't have much money and don't really have any to put into this project I think its a good... Read more »

Ali Shahrestani, Esq.
Ali Shahrestani, Esq. answered on Jan 24, 2019

Local law libraries provide ample self-help resources re: Intellectual Property and Business law. Typically a Non Disclosure Agreement is a great tool to help prevent disclosure of confidential information re: your ideas. You might need to ultimately file for a copyright, trademark, and/or patent,... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Copyright, Intellectual Property and Patents (Intellectual Property) for Washington on
Q: Are provisional patents for design?

Competitor claims they have a provisional patent for all but color change of an (my) existing product. I thought provisional patents were for utility only. Could they be lying? How do I find out?

Kevin E. Flynn
Kevin E. Flynn answered on Apr 26, 2018

A provisional patent application is for a utility patent but one can file a design patent application as a continuation of a utility patent application so there is some small chance that they could end up with a design patent from an initial provisional patent application.

Generally a...
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1 Answer | Asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Washington on
Q: Can I use some lyrics from an album in a zine I created of analog collages if I give credit to the artist/album?

The whole zine (magazine) is an ode to the influence and inspiration I received in my life from the album which is explained in the introduction. I've taken some of my favorite lyrics and created a series of analog collages for each lyric. I listed the credits on the end page. I have reached out to... Read more »

Andrew Zulieve Esq
Andrew Zulieve Esq answered on Jan 31, 2018

Copyright infringement requires that there be a substantially similar reproduction of another's original work of authorship. It is a fact-intensive inquiry and may be, but is not necessarily always, tied to the actual amount of copying from the original work of authorship. It may be a good idea... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Copyright for Washington on
Q: Copyright -- reproduction and sale of foreign works

Is there any particular law against reproducing and selling, say, the book cover of a book that is from another country? If so, where can I read more about it?

Will Blackton
Will Blackton answered on Jan 2, 2018

The U.S. Copyright Office has published on this topic, search for "Copyright Office Circular 38A" on your search engine of choice or at the copyright.gov.

2 Answers | Asked in Copyright, Intellectual Property and Patents (Intellectual Property) for Washington on
Q: I’m trying to determine if this patent is what I’m looking to create - https://patents.justia.com/patent/8656283

I’m looking to create a mobile program that allows kids to create their own stories by supplying them with art assets and allowing them to write in text. If this patent is that exact thing, is there a way around creating that or am I completely blocked on making this program? When does the patent... Read more »

Kevin E. Flynn
Kevin E. Flynn answered on Nov 7, 2017

Thanks for caring enough about doing the right thing to ask a question. The technical term for what you are asking is called freedom to operate (FTO) or sometimes "clearance". You are asking whether there are concrete legal rights that exist that would impinge on your freedom to operate in the... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Business Law, Contracts, Copyright and Internet Law for Washington on
Q: I bought some sticker logos legally on line. If I apply these logos to hats, can I then sell the logoed hats on ebay?
Barbara Berschler
Barbara Berschler answered on Sep 2, 2017

Do you intend to apply the actual logo stickers that you bought? In copyright, there is the First Sale Doctrine that provides that if a person buys an object having copyright protected material, the buyer can do what they want with the object. For example for a book, you could give it away or... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Copyright, Internet Law, Business Law and Intellectual Property for Washington on
Q: Eat24 or an affiliate marketer made a site "stacias-pizza.com" that makes it look like my client's. Is this legal?
Will Blackton
Will Blackton answered on Jul 7, 2017

Are you saying you're a web designer and you created a website for a pizza place, and someone copied and rebranded that website as Stacia's Gourmet Pizza?

If so, how much of your work was copied? What elements: images, text, html?

Or are you saying that Stacia's Gourmet Pizza is...
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1 Answer | Asked in Copyright and Trademark for Washington on
Q: if someone already trademarked upper left apparel llc does that mean I can't make a company with upper left?

trying to start a brand/fabrication company

Walker Weitzel
Walker Weitzel answered on Jul 3, 2017

Trademarks are specific to the type of goods being sold. If your company would not produce competing products with the existing mark, then you probably would not infringe their mark, and registration of your trademark may be possible. I would suggest contacting a trademark lawyer for a free initial... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Washington on
Q: Does mailing a copy of original work to yourself give you any copyright protection?

I have a brochure I made in 1998 I only have the one copy that I mailed myself to protect the work. I want to update it but don't want to lose any protection I might have by opening the envelope. Is it protecting me, and thus needs to remain unopened, or is that an urban myth?

Will Blackton
Will Blackton answered on Feb 24, 2017

This is an urban myth. Original creative works receive copyright protection as soon as they are created in some retrievable form, that is, when they're written or printed. Mailing yourself the work does nothing to enhance that copyright protection. However, filing for statutory copyright... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Copyright and Patents (Intellectual Property) for Washington on
Q: Who can I email for patent paperwork to read about them and an application?
Will Blackton
Will Blackton answered on Feb 8, 2017

If you're looking for general information about patents, the U.S. Patent Office has a good overview here: https://www.uspto.gov/patents-getting-started/general-information-concerning-patents

1 Answer | Asked in Copyright for Washington on
Q: Hi I'm a student and I'm working on a project about copyright laws, and I'm hoping you can answer a quick question?

I have been given a scenario involving someone who creates a concert poster using a NASA Image called Reisman's Self Portrait. He displays this poster around town, social media websites, and personal websites. Would this be infringing on original copyright or would this be considered fair use?

Will Blackton
Will Blackton answered on Feb 8, 2017

Under 17 USC 105, copyright does not extend to any work prepared by an officer or employee of the federal government as part of his or her official duties. This provision doesn't prevent the federal government from owning copyrights either by assignment or pursuant to work-made-for-hire agreements... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Copyright for Washington on
Q: Can I paint a Disney character on an ornament and give it as a gift to a friend or family member?

I paint things for family and friends for holidays or a special occasion. I do not have or intend on having a business or sell these items. They are solely gifts. Am I allowed to paint a Disney character on something and give it as a gift, and post a picture of that gift? This was just mentioned to... Read more »

Will Blackton
Will Blackton answered on Jan 27, 2017

This would qualify as trademark/copyright infringement. That being said, Disney would have to find out about this infringement and determine that it's worth their time to sue you, before you'd face the consequences of this infringement.

So, could you get in trouble? Yes.

Are you...
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1 Answer | Asked in Copyright and Trademark for Washington on
Q: What is the process I would need to go through if I wanted to use a shirt with the wutang w (no text) to fundraise?

I run a smallish student organization at my university and we are designing the shirts to sell at an upcoming fundraiser. One of our designs is very similar to the wu tang W logo without the text. The funds raised from the shirts would go back into the club.

Are we allowed to do this right... Read more »

Will Blackton
Will Blackton answered on Jan 27, 2017

You need to get permission to use copyrighted or trademarked images, if you want to avoid the risk of a lawsuit.

Your university probably employs an attorney who can help you obtain licensing rights, or at least advise you on how to do so.

However, someone who holds the rights to...
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1 Answer | Asked in Copyright for Washington on
Q: If I use public video which then gets watermarked, can I still use my video with all rights?
Will Blackton
Will Blackton answered on Jan 27, 2017

Your question is unintelligible, you'll need to clarify some things before anyone can help you.

Did you make this video? What do you mean by public video? What right, specifically, are you referring to?

The more information you give, the more accurate an answer you can get.

1 Answer | Asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Washington on
Q: I'm writing a parody novel I intend to sell using cheap knock offs of action movie characters.

I'm using many famous action movie/tv icons but with slightly or totally different names and personalities as characters in my book. The story is original, but mocking fantasy and sci-fi tropes. For example I spoof Mick "Crocodile" Dundee by making a character named Paul "Alligator" Dungee. RoboCop... Read more »

Donovan A Rodriques
Donovan A Rodriques answered on Jan 21, 2017

You should speak with a qualified entertainment attorney regarding all the facts of your situation. Your treatment of these fictional characters may be considered "fair use", and the subject of first Amendment expression, which includes biographical, historical, satirical, and parodic use.... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Washington on
Q: Can Rainbow pattern dice be copyrighted?

A dice manufacturer has made dice for games like dungeons and dragons that are rainbow pattern. By Layering different colored resin on top of resin until the die is completed. Can this be copyrighted? They said they put in a copyright that protects this in the USA. But I can't find it.

Marjorie Simmons
Marjorie Simmons answered on Sep 13, 2016

A copyright springs into being automatically when a work is created in a tangible form, however, registering the copyright with the U.S. Copyright office gives the copyright holder more rights to pursue a remedy if the copyright is infringed by others. You may want to read the general FAQ... Read more »

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