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Massachusetts Intellectual Property Questions & Answers
1 Answer | Asked in Intellectual Property for Massachusetts on
Q: Could I sell a product on Amazon US which is branded with an Australian company's name that is copyrighted in Australia?

I found a supplier for my product who is based in China, they have the mold of this product, but it is branded with the name of an Australian company who previously bought from this supplier. The Australian company has a copyright registered in Australia. Could I sell this product with their name... Read more »

Griffin Klema
Griffin Klema answered on Dec 26, 2018

Maybe. Trademark rights are based on use, and if no one is using the mark in the US (either the Australian company or anyone else), then you might be able to sell the product or even acquire trademark rights to the name or logo. I suggest you read Person's v. Christman, 900 F.2d 1565 (Fed. Cir.... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Intellectual Property and Patents (Intellectual Property) for Massachusetts on
Q: Is there a way to get a patent issued if I failed to file within the year of getting a provisional patent?
Peter D. Mlynek
Peter D. Mlynek answered on Dec 15, 2018

That is a very common question. Many times inventors get side-tracked, or funding dries up, or they simply forget.

The good news is that provisional patent applications are not published, so once the provisional patent application expires and is not used as a priority document, it is as if...
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2 Answers | Asked in Intellectual Property for Massachusetts on
Q: Is recycling damaged books, comic books and manga into household items copyright infringement if they're sold?

Hi, I'm curious if I re-purpose damaged comic books, manga books and books in general into household use items and sell them if it is intellectual property and/or copyright infringement? Would this be considered fair use of the original item or transformative use of the items since I am taking only... Read more »

Griffin Klema
Griffin Klema answered on Dec 5, 2018

It sounds like you have done some homework on this issue, which is great! It could be a transformative use. However, it really depends on how much you change the original copyrighted work into a new work. As for your second question about marketing your products, that is a separate issue that gets... Read more »

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Q: I am an online seller and received a letter in the mail from another company regarding an item that has a patent pending

I received a certified letter regarding a silicone pipe that I currently sell on many platforms including my own website. The company stated that they have a patent pending on it and that I have to: immediately stop marketing the product, remove the product from all selling platforms and send them... Read more »

Kevin E. Flynn
Kevin E. Flynn answered on May 16, 2018

This situation merits working with patent attorney to sort out the current status and possibly to intervene to help the Patent Office reject or at least narrow the claims.

As a preliminary step, you may want to check on the status of the pending application using USPTO Public PAIR....
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2 Answers | Asked in Intellectual Property and Patents (Intellectual Property) for Massachusetts on
Q: have any patents been filed in regard to the new lithium extraction process developed by John Burba?
Peter D. Mlynek
Peter D. Mlynek answered on Apr 7, 2018

Yes, he has several dozen patents related to lithium, including extraction process from brine.

Some (but not necessarily all) of the patent applications that he is listed as an inventor are found in the following list:...
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1 Answer | Asked in Contracts, Copyright and Intellectual Property for Massachusetts on
Q: What is the usual fee or percentage given to the person who's intellectual property I'll be teaching?

I've trained as certified coach and I'm planning on teaching and certifying people in the same coaching in a different language. The person who certified me and I are creating a royalty, license agreement and I'd like to know what is the usual profit % or fee that is standard or usual.

I... Read more »

Will Blackton
Will Blackton answered on Mar 1, 2018

It depends!

What are you coaching?

From what language are you translating and to which language? That's an atypical piece of the puzzle.

What type of IP are you using?

How will you be reselling the IP?

The answers to those questions and more will...
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2 Answers | Asked in Intellectual Property and Patents (Intellectual Property) for Massachusetts on
Q: if there is a patent on a toy and we want to use the said toy as part of a game, do we need to obtain licenxing rights?

I look at it like taking a patent like dice and using it for a game. Is that legal in that case because the patent has long expired?

Peter D. Mlynek
Peter D. Mlynek answered on Feb 23, 2018

If you want to sell a game that has a toy in it, and the toy is patented, then you would be infringing the patent. You can't get around a patent to a product by adding more stuff to the product.

You'll likely need to obtain a license, or buy the toy from the toy maker.

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2 Answers | Asked in Copyright, Internet Law and Intellectual Property for Massachusetts on
Q: Can I legally add the word 'fund' to the url for a website?

I am not a registered nonprofit or charity, but I help fundraise for one. Example: billsfund.org

Jonathan R. Roth
Jonathan R. Roth answered on Jan 23, 2018

It could be considered a material misrepresentation unless there is an agreement in place that protects, you, the charity and the donor.

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1 Answer | Asked in Contracts and Intellectual Property for Massachusetts on
Q: I'm a songwriter. I write lyrics for a band. They want to have a formal contract where I get 10% of royalties. Fair?

They pay me a flat rate for each song, but now they are wanting to pay me 10% of the royalties they receive as well. Is this a fair deal?

Jonathan R. Roth
Jonathan R. Roth answered on Dec 15, 2017

Fair is in the eye of the beholder. A lyricist who composes a song with someone else gets 50% of the royalty for the song, not the recording of the song. The royalty is split between the song writers and the publisher. If there is no publisher, then the song writers get the entire royalty. Now... Read more »

Q: Are you able to provide examples of cases related to faulty vehicle software? Ideally, open source software. Thank you!

Looking for examples of regulatory violations, recalls, class action, civil, or other cases related to software in vehicles. This could also include intellectual property cases associated with open source software. I'm keen to discover how much influence open source software has had, so far, given... Read more »

Griffin Klema
Griffin Klema answered on Sep 21, 2017

Google Scholar is a great resource for finding case law and scholarly articles that may give you the insight you are seeking. Otherwise find a local library (or law library) and seek assistance with at reference desk. A reference librarian can point you in the right direction to come up with... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Massachusetts on
Q: Is it legal to sell a dice game based on a real copyrighted game for fake currency that has no real world value

I regularly attend a LARP in which we created a dice game that is based on Pirates Rollin' Bones (https://www.amazon.com/Pirates-Rollin-Bones-Dice-Game/dp/B004RL774A).

Our spin-off version has several significant differences (6 instead of 4 sided dice, different images, slightly different... Read more »

Benton R Patterson III
Benton R Patterson III answered on Aug 7, 2017

This is a difficult question to answer without studying the two games in detail because there are several aspects of a game that can be copyrighted. But, I can try to give a few pointers. Illustrations and the bone shaped pieces are protected by copyright. Basic game of chance concepts with dice... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Copyright, Intellectual Property and Libel & Slander for Massachusetts on
Q: Can a public domain image of a politician be used for a commercial product, or do personality rights come into play?

I'm curious if all the humorous political paraphernalia that includes an actual photo of a person is legal or not. (For example: Trump or Obama toilet paper)

Glenn B. Manishin
Glenn B. Manishin answered on Jan 7, 2017

Copyright in images typically does not apply to parodies, and it is unlikely you can libel a famous person (a "public figure") with a political humor under the First Amendment and New York Times v. Sullivan unless your statement is presented as a fact and you have "actual malice" — knowledge the... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Business Law, Copyright, Intellectual Property and Trademark for Massachusetts on
Q: Is the actual punctuation mark semicolon trademarked by this company?

I've heard of people having their jewelry on etsy removed due to having a semicolon in their design. It does refer to the project semicolon organization but is just the actual punctuation mark, not their logo or anything like that. Is it still not allowed?

Ali Shahrestani, Esq.
Ali Shahrestani, Esq. answered on Dec 29, 2016

I see no basis for an IP assertion of rights re: simply a semicolon. The best first step is an Initial Consultation with an Attorney. You can read more about me on my law practice website. This answer does not constitute legal advice; make any predictions, guarantees, or warranties; or create any... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Intellectual Property for Massachusetts on
Q: Do I still own my code?

I was on the founding team of a startup and brought some code in that I developed before joining the startup. I made some customization's to the code while on the founding team but signed a contract which states we all sign over all project related IP

Adam Studnicki
Adam Studnicki answered on Jul 14, 2015

The contract could be a problem. Best to have a local lawyer review and advise.

1 Answer | Asked in Intellectual Property for Massachusetts on
Q: I own the registered trademark #78284503 Fairway Franks. Someone is selling a domain with that name. Legal or not?
Mr. Ilya Libenzon
Mr. Ilya Libenzon answered on Feb 26, 2014

it would be illegal if the owner of that domain uses it in connection with products/services similar to those in connection with which you registered your trademark; selling a domain with that name is not illegal per se

1 Answer | Asked in Intellectual Property for Massachusetts on
Q: Is it copyright infringement to publish a website that does almost the same thing as a current site?

I started working on a website 3 weeks ago. Today I found an article online about one that has the same functionality and came out about a month ago. Am i within my rights to publish the website still?

Mr. Ilya Libenzon
Mr. Ilya Libenzon answered on Feb 26, 2014

it is not a copyright infringement as long as you use your own original language/text to describe the functionality; it may, however, constitute a patent infringement if the functionality is patented by the owner of that website

1 Answer | Asked in Intellectual Property for Massachusetts on
Q: I want to get a trademark in the USA. What is involved?
Mr. Ilya Libenzon
Mr. Ilya Libenzon answered on Feb 26, 2014

It would involve conducting a trademark clearance search to make sure your trademark is available for registration. Then you would need to prepare and file a trademark application at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. I would recommend contacting an intellectual property attorney who... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Intellectual Property for Massachusetts on
Q: Are there copyright laws around making video tutorials about how to use Microsoft office? I can't find any info on it
Mr. Ilya Libenzon
Mr. Ilya Libenzon answered on Feb 26, 2014

When you create a video tutorial, you will get a copyright protection immediately upon creation of the work; you can register it with a copyright office.

One thing that you should be careful about is using the Microsoft or Microsoft office trademarks when advertising your services or...
Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Intellectual Property for Massachusetts on
Q: How can i copyright my stage name?
Mr. Ilya Libenzon
Mr. Ilya Libenzon answered on Feb 26, 2014

You can federally register a trademark for your stage name in connection with services and/or products that you provide/offer. You can contact me for a free consultation with regard to trademarking your stage name.

1 Answer | Asked in Intellectual Property for Massachusetts on
Q: I want to trademark a name. Can I do that online cheaply rather than get a lawyer to do it? I am a small company.
Mr. Ilya Libenzon
Mr. Ilya Libenzon answered on Jul 26, 2011

You can apply on-line, but I would recommend conducting a trademark search/risk assessment by looking for identical marks on USPTO or trademark.com sites, I would search for both federal and state registered marks, and also I would look for those marks that could potentially create a likelihood of... Read more »

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