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Washington Intellectual Property 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 Intellectual Property and Trademark for Washington on
Q: Can a Trademark be similar to another without penalty,i.e. "Happy Place" vs. "Your Happy Place" for example?
John Martin Hilla
John Martin Hilla answered on Jun 17, 2019

It is important to remember that the purpose of a trademark is to protect consumers' right to know what they are buying and from whom not to provide a creative ownership interest for registrants. If there is consumer confusion, the USPTO will file an Office Action in response to the application.... Read more »

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.

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 »

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 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 Intellectual Property for Washington on
Q: Would it be Illegal to sell a hockey jersey that does not have the NHL logo or the name Reebok anywhere on it?

Say I had a Red Wings jersey that looked like the real jersey but was not real because of the stitching, straps, etc. But the jersey did not say Reebok or NHL anywhere on it. Would it still be illegal to sell would I be infringing on any IP?

Walker Weitzel
Walker Weitzel answered on Apr 29, 2017

The key question in trademark law is whether there is a likelihood that a consumer would be confused about the source of the jersey. There are a bunch of parts of a jersey that might indicate its provenance, including the design, the team name, any logos, team colors, etcetera that could all be... 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 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 »

1 Answer | Asked in Intellectual Property for Washington on
Q: If I created a logo for a business with the promise of payment and didn't receive payment, who has copyright?

My husband started a business in OR with partner, they had me work on website, logo, etc. Now. Husband has left the business after 3 months and I never got paid for my work. The redemption was signed and didn't include my fees, but I was under the impression that I would get paid. Two months... Read more »

Marjorie Simmons
Marjorie Simmons answered on Jul 6, 2016

A work can be "made for hire" under some circumstances, and in those circumstances, the person who hired the work can be the work's owner. If there was any understanding that the work (logo & site) was to be paid for in order to be used, then you can stop the person from using your work until it... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Intellectual Property for Washington on
Q: how do I change my address for my trademark?
Marjorie Simmons
Marjorie Simmons answered on Jul 6, 2016

Did you register your trademark with the USPTO (http://www.uspto.gov/trademark)? Or did you register your trademark with the state? Each have their own procedures for address changes. If you have an online account with the USPTO, you can log in and update your account there, and they at times... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Intellectual Property for Washington on
Q: Can I register a copyright to a diary I found in my grandmother's attic?
Paul Overhauser
Paul Overhauser answered on Dec 17, 2010

Only a "claimant" to a copyright can register it. You are not the "author" you so you can not claim ownership through authorship. However, assuming your grandmother is dead, and your are her sole heir, you may be the copyright owner under the laws where your grandmother died. If this is the... Read more »

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