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Wisconsin Copyright Questions & Answers
1 Answer | Asked in Copyright, Patents (Intellectual Property) and Trademark for Wisconsin on
Q: Is the Audubon Bird images in public domain?
Kathryn Perales
Kathryn Perales answered on Aug 31, 2020

The original paintings by John James Audubon are old enough that they are in the public domain. Any other photos or paintings or drawings, however, which may be available through the Audubon Society, may not be in the public domain.

1 Answer | Asked in Copyright and Patents (Intellectual Property) for Wisconsin on
Q: Do you know of any patents for a dr. Pepper bbq sauce?
John B. Hudak
John B. Hudak answered on Aug 4, 2020

A patent search would be needed to determine if a patent possibly exists.

A do it yourself search can be started with learning about searching for patents on the USPTO website (

Although, it is generally recommended...
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1 Answer | Asked in Copyright for Wisconsin on
Q: Are character and franchise names or concepts protected under copyright?

I would like to create a card game in which I use the names of certain people and characters from popular culture, both fictional and real. The pictures in the game are entirely original, but based on the general idea of the people and characters. Is this protected under parody, or is this a... Read more »

Evelyn Suero
Evelyn Suero answered on Jul 30, 2020

Use of another brand's characters may constitute both copyright infringement as well as trademark infringement/dilution. There are limitations to the fair use and parody such as, the effect on marketability/sales that such use may have on a parodied brand. Consult with an attorney for more... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Wisconsin on
Q: Assuming that a story itself is protected by copyright, does that also apply character names, quotes, etc. in the story?

Are you allowed to re-use a small percentage of a protected work?

Kathryn Perales
Kathryn Perales answered on Jun 16, 2020

A tough question to answer, even when you know all of the specific details! Copyright protection certainly applies to quotations. It can apply to aspects of the characters, depending on how recognizable they are. As an example, writers of "fan fiction" encounter this dilemma all the... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Copyright for Wisconsin on
Q: I would like to use a short audio sample(~2s) from a tv show in a song and am wondering who to contact to obtain permiss

(permission) The sample does not contain any soundtrack (just a clip of dialogue) and is neither a consequential part of the source work or my composition

Barbara Berschler
Barbara Berschler answered on Apr 29, 2020

There may be a few layers of copyright rights to evaluate. If you are just using lyrics from a song, then the copyright owner of the lyrics would be one person to contact. It is not clear what you mean by a "clip of dialogue." If what you want to copy is actual sound from the TV show,... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Copyright for Wisconsin on
Q: Is it legal for an author to use the name Baby Ruth candy bar in a book?
Marcos Garciaacosta
Marcos Garciaacosta answered on Mar 13, 2019

You are getting close to potential infringement.

You should consider using a different name.

Or try to get permission from the owners of the brand.

Q: What are the first steps in protecting a concept for/of a new business? Does it involve patents or copyright?
Kevin E. Flynn
Kevin E. Flynn answered on Jan 23, 2019

Might not be a patent. The Supreme Court has recently made it fairly difficult to patent a method of organizing human activity. See the documents used to train patent examiners -- On the other hand,... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Wisconsin on
Q: When can the "name" of a character be protected under copyright law, even though it typically wouldn't?

Copyright itself doesn't protect only just a name, you can't copyright just a name at all. But, "characters" should be protected under a copyright if they are unique, but isn't a name an intrinsic part of a character and its accompanying story?

Bryan Thomas Kroes
Bryan Thomas Kroes answered on Aug 9, 2018

A full answer to your question will require a more fact-intensive analysis. Generally, copyright law will afford protection of the fictional character itself when it has appeared in a copyrightable work and has a life of its own within that work, however, achieving a level of distinctiveness such... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Wisconsin on
Q: Copyright Use

Hello I am currently developing a college football website, and I created a logo that I am wondering if it would be OK to use. The logo uses the Big Ten conference font and says "B1G" like the Big Ten logo, but it is stretched out and there is a football filled inside of the letters... Read more »

Andrew Zulieve Esq
Andrew Zulieve Esq answered on May 7, 2018

You probably should discuss this with an experienced intellectual property attorney. The issue may implicate issues of both copyright and trademark law. Your proposed logo may infringe the trademark rights of the Big Ten Conference if your logo creates consumer confusion as to the source of your... Read more »

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