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Maurice N Ross
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Maurice Ross’s Answers

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  • Register copyright for website

    Hi this is Alex , we registered the all of the rest copyright already . But my boss want to register for us copyright for his website . The website is e-commerce website and we want to ask some lawyer can help us to register for us copyright with ...

    Maurice’s Answer

    This is not just a simple matter of filling out a few forms. Further, your web-site as a whole does not qualify for copyright protection. Copyright protects only original elements of a web-site, and often separate copyright registrations must be filed for separate elements. For example, the original art work used to design the look of the web-site might be subject to copyright protection, but the general template for the web-site might not be. Software developed for operation of the web-site might be protected by copyright. Photographs, articles, and other materials posted on the web-site might be protected by copyright law, but you may need to obtain separate copyright protection for each element. One of the problems with copyright law is that as currently drafted, it does not allow for easy registration and protection of the content contained in web-sites as it is updated every day. Whereas copyright law allows for collective filings of newspapers and other such serial publications, there is no comparable mechanism for protecting web-sites as they are updated. Difficult decisions have to be made as to what articles, photographs and other content should be registered for protection. These are complex matters---and this will be an ongoing issue for you. No competent lawyer can quote you a price for a single filing that would protect your web-site---that is not how this works in the real world. Further, the legal work you need is neither inexpensive nor easy---it takes time to work with a web-site owner to determine the best strategy for protecting the content on web-site. Since your intellectual property is your most important asset, this is not the time for you to be worrying about discounts---you should obtain quality, experienced legal service, not cheap services. This is not a task that can be performed properly for a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars. Protecting your IP rights in your web-site requires a significant investment---but it will pay long-term dividends.

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  • Can I take a designer's money that used my design without permission to sell on shirts?

    I recently found a t-shirt designer who sells a very similar design to ours. It is not the exact same. The design is just made up of some little swirls in gold. The t-shirt designer asked her artist to create a similar design. Her design has swirl...

    Maurice’s Answer

    You can't just "take" the money. You would have to bring an action for copyright infringement in a federal court, and you would have to win the case. Specifically, you would have to prove To establish infringement, the plaintiff must prove: (1) ownership of a valid copyright, and (2) copying of the elements of the work that are original; the "copied" version must be substantially similar to the work covered by copyright.

    You would have an uphill battle in this case. First, you will have difficulty proving that the design in question (little swirls in gold) is sufficiently original to justify copyright protection. Second, you will have difficulty proving that there us a substantial similarity between your design and the design as modified by the other T-shirt designer. The scope of protection for designs of this type is usually very narrow, and it is easy to design around them and avoid liability for copyright protection.

    If you litigate the matter and win, you would be entitled to disgorgement of profits made by the infringer, or your actual damages, or statutory damage of no less than $750 up to $30,000 (and if the infringement is willful damages could be up to $150,000). If you are the prevailing party and the defendant's position was objectively baseless, you might be awarded attorneys fees---but not every prevailing party gets attorneys fees. If the defendant's non-infringement position is reasonable (even if rejected by the jury), you won't get your attorneys fees.

    Copyright litigation is expensive. This case would not lend itself to a contingency fee arrangement. And the costs and legal fees associated with pursuing a case like this would be substantial---it will take at least $250,000 to take a case like this through discovery and trial. I seriously doubt if there is enough money at stake in this case to justify such an investment, but only you can make that decision. Your next step is to retain experienced IP litigation counsel to advise you. But this case probably does not make economic sense to litigate, particularly because you will have an uphill battle.

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  • Are the design patterns on these socks copyright-able? http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/71JTO1D1tjL._UL1500_.jpg

    Please see the design patterns here http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/71JTO1D1tjL._UL1500_.jpg

    Maurice’s Answer

    Ordinarily copyright law does not protect clothing designs. But original fabric designs can be protected by copyright law. The issue here is whether the designs shown on these socks would be sufficiently original to qualify for copyright protection. I believe each of these designs would qualify for copyright protection.

    Moreover, even if the designs do not qualify for copyright protection, they could qualify for trade dress protection. A product's physical appearance, including its size, shape, color, design, and texture, can sometimes constitute trade dress. Trade dress designs become associated in the minds of consumers with the source of specific goods and services. It is quite possible that one or more of these sock designs is trade dress associated with a well known manufacturer of socks. You would need to retain IP counsel to analyze whether one or more of these designs constitutes protected trade dress.

    It certainly would be risky for someone to make socks that copy these designs. If you are considering using such designs on socks or other apparel, you should first retain IP counsel to conduct a clearance analysis--you need an informed legal opinion as to whether use of these designs would violate copyright or trade dress law. Without obtaining such a clearance opinion, I would advise against using copies of these designs.

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  • Do I have Intellectual Property Rights or do I have to TM my business name?

    I created a business MGS Products and had a website mgsproducts.com and mgsproducts.net for a very long time. I was with a company that I didn't like to host my domain and I allowed them to keep it until it expired. As soon as it was expired I was...

    Maurice’s Answer

    You first need to understand the difference between a trademark and a domain name. A domain name is simply a group of words, letters and numbers that direct users to a web-site address that you own or control. A trademark is a name or phrase that identifies the source of goods and services. Whereas domain names can be purchased for a modest fee and then resold, trademark rights arise from use n commerce, and are usually formalized by registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A trademark can be included as part of domain name---indeed, an entire domain name can sometimes become a trademark. But not all domain names constitute trademarks.

    It is illegal to purchase a domain name without having a good faith intent to use the domain name to operate a web-site or otherwise for a legitimate business. Nonetheless, there are many entrepreneurs (I use that term loosely) who are in the business of buying and selling domain names for a profit. This is not always illegal, but often this becomes illegal cybersquatting. Often people in the business of buying and selling domain names will attempt to purchase domain names that correspond to trademarks owned by a third party---they then try to essentially blackmail that third party into paying an exorbitant fee for the domain name. This is illegal cybersquatting if the person who bought the domain name did not have a good faith intent to use it in his business. But it can be difficult to prove that the person who purchased the domain name had no legitimate business reason for doing so. Thus, cybersquatting cases can be difficult to prove and win.

    Note that even though you own a trademark (for example MSG products), that does not mean that you automatically own the right to domain names containing that trademark. In this regard, it is common for more than one company to legitimately operate under the same trademark. This is especially so when one of the companies did not register their trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and is instead, relying on common law trademark rights. Thus, even though you own trademark rights in your company's brand name. you do not necessarily have the right to domain names that contain the trademark. Other companies may have the right to use your trademark in domain names.

    However, if the person who acquired the domain is merely "squatting"---i.e., is not legitimately using the name in his business, then uou have two potential legal remedies: Either (1) bring a cybersquatting case and trademark infringement case in a federal district court under the the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. §1125(d), (a statute enacted in November 1999 to target the bad-faith registration of domain names that incorporate well-known trademarks), or (2) bring a UDRP arbitration proceeding, which is a less expensive and streamlined remedy developed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) . The UDRP requires domain name registrars to transfer a domain name registration to a complainant after a finding in complainant's favor by an administrative panel. Unlike with civil litigation, the UDRP does not provide for monetary damages, but it does offer a quick and often highly effective means for securing the transfer of an improperly registered domain name. But UDRP proceedings are expensive to pursue. Filing fees alone range form $1000 to $5000 (and that doesn;'t include legal fees). Cybersquatters usually offer to settle for an amount significantly less than it would cost you to bring an UDRP proceeding or federal litigation. In this case, it will cost you a lot more than $2195 to bring an UDRP proceeding or federal litigation. Cybersquatters like this understand that the economics favors them, which is why they often force people to accept settlement terms like those offered to you here. Your next step is to hire experienced legal counsel--you can't handle this by yourself.

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  • Trademark Application Exclusionary Language

    If I exclude lollipops in my description of goods does that prevent me from using the mark on freezer pops/ popsicles. Or are lollipops and freezer pops recognizebly different products. The definition of lollipop is "a piece of hard candy attached...

    Maurice’s Answer

    My colleagues have been very helpful. But I will be explicit in saying what most of them hint out. You are making a major blunder if you are handling this application without trademark counsel. Relying on this web-site as a substitute is not wise---in fact it is a colossal error in judgment. Your brand name is critical for the long term health of your business. Before choosing your brand name, you should have engaged IP counsel to conduct a thorough trademark clearance analysis---my guess is that the problem you are having arises because of a failure to obtain a proper clearance, which would have indicated that use of the word "lollipops" would be a problem.

    Note that even if you manage to convince the examiner to issue a trademark, that does not assure you that you can use the trademark without getting sued for infringement. This is because in the U.S., common law trademark rights are enforceable even if they have not been registered. Trademark examiners often focus only on registered marks, not common law marks.

    Bottom line---get a lawyer to deal with this for you. And in so doing, make sure you obtain a full fledged clearance analysis. In this regard, remember that in the internet age, a U.S. clearance is almost never enough. Trademark rights are national, not international, A US trademark gives you no rights in Canada or Europe. if you want to sell your products to customers in Canada, Europe, or outside the U.S., then your trademark clearance analysis and trademark filings must cover these countries.

    Starting a business without an IP lawyer is almost always a grave mistake. Trying to handle trademark applications, patent issues, and copyright issues without legal counsel is a recipe for financial disaster. And I can assure you that your business is going to face not only trademark issues, but also issues under patent and copyright law. There is nothing more important for your business than laying the proper legal foundation---which means working closely with IP counsel to "clear" the IP rights which you intend to use.

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  • Am I able to use songs for a non-profit video?

    I work for a local animal shelter and we post adoption videos weekly on our social media sites of the available pets. We like to put the videos to songs that seem to fit well with each pet. We don't sell the videos or make any profit from them. Do...

    Maurice’s Answer

    You cannot use these songs without obtaining synchronization licenses (you might need several). This would be a clear violation of copyright law.

    You may need several licenses---(a) First, you need a license from the owners of the copyright on the musical composition (the notes and lyrics to a song). Often, these licenses are administered by music publishing companies; (B)Second, you need a license from the owner of the master recording of the song (usually a record label); (C) Third, you may also need licenses from the artists who recorded the song (a performance licence, although in most cases, the record label has acquired the rights necessary to license the recording, which includes the artist's performance. (D) Fourth, if your source for the songs is a video (or You Tube Videos), you will also need a license from the persons who prepared the videos).

    You might ask whether your use would qualify as "fair use" and thereby be exempt from copyright infringement. The fair use doctrine is quite limited in scope, and allows limited use of short pieces of copyrighted works for purposes of education, journalism, research, commentary or criticism, and satire or parody. The fair use analysis requires a consideration of several factors, including the nature and purpose of the use, the quantity of material used, and the impact of the use on the market value of the copyrighted work. It is possible that you could make a case that your use of songs in these pet adoption videos is a form of social commentary and/or creates a transformational original work. However, I doubt that you would win this argument---the main source of revenues for music is licensing for use in advertisements, films and movies. Your video is an advertisement, which is a classic commercial use. Even though your videos promote a worthy cause, they are promotional and commercial in nature. Thus, it is extremely unlikely that the fair use doctrine would operate to protect you.

    Even if you could ultimately establish fair use, fair use is only a defense to a law suit for infringement. It won't stop you from being sued. It can take hundreds of thousands of dollars to litigate a fair use defense, with no assurance of success or recovery or attorneys' fees. Thus, it would be exceedingly irresponsible for this local animal shelter to use music in these adoption videos without obtaining the appropriate licenses.

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  • What are the limitations on using my professional/stage name… Where would it be smart to use my real name instead?

    I want to adopt a professional name to use as an entertainer/professional. I am based in Colorado- a state where people don’t do this much, but people in states like California or New York do this often- they adopt professional, pen, or stage name...

    Maurice’s Answer

    There is nothing illegal or unusual about using a stage name. In fact, many famous artists obtain trademark protection for their stage names which serve as a brand name for various goods and services. You will have to use your real name on legal documents, but over the years many artists have actually adopted their stage names as their legal names through court approved name changes. There is nothing wrong with using a "nick name" or stage name as long as you are not attempting to commit a fraud on the public or on third parties.

    The issue of whether to use your real name or a stage name is almost entirely a marketing and promotional issue. In other words, this is a business decision, not primarily a legal decision. The choice of "Lady Gaga" was almost certainly a brilliant business decision. In other cases, depending on the artist and the nature of her work, use of the artist's real name may have substantial long-term benefits. If your marketing strategy requires that the public consider you to be authentic and not phony, then use of your real name might be a good idea.

    I am a working musician as well as a lawyer, and I advise and represent many young singer/songwriter/musicians. I believe that for most artists, authenticity is what brings long term success. That is why I am not wild about using stage names. By the same token,. if you have a long, difficult to pronounce name, marketing and promotional experts will probably advice you to simplify it or adopt and alternative. If your goal is to become a pop music star, a stage name probably makes more sense than if your goal is to become a serious stage actor or classical musician, but each situation is different and there is no wrong or right answer.

    Finally, I will note that many young singers/songwriters/actors, spend too much time (in my humble opinion) worrying about their images, and not enough time worrying about the quality of their music and writing. What matters most is whether your songs are good, well-written, and accessible, Unless you want to be a one hit wonder, you should devote most of your time and effort to the quality of your work, and let that quality be your main selling point. Authenticity and quality often go hand in hand.. As you can see, I am not a big proponent of using stage names, but sometimes that is a good choice.

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  • Can I give away free music downloads of me playing my own version of other artists' songs without paying mechanicals?

    I'm a jazz musician. On my first released album, there was 1 cover song. It was my own arrangement, but still not my composition. I paid for the rights to use it. I paid for the number of CD's I was going to create, and I paid for the number of do...

    Maurice’s Answer

    No you cannot do this. This would be a blatant violation of copyright law. At a minimum, you will need to obtain a mechanical license. It is irrelevant that you will be giving away the recordings without compensation. Copyright law prohibits not only the selling of copyrighted materials, but also their unauthorized distribution.

    Moreover, a mechanical license may not be sufficient for your jazz arrangements. The problem arises because most people in the music world do not understand the meaning of "cover", As a working musician (I play piano in clubs four nights weekly after finishing my day job as a lawyer), I am often amazed at often experienced musicians misunderstand the meaning of "cover".

    A mechanical license permits you to "cover" a song, but that is limited to a relatively faithful recreation of the song (melody, harmony and lyrics as originally written or recorded) without significant changes to the words, music, harmonies and rhythm. A mechanical allows you to faithfully recreate a song as originally written or recorded (if the recording is the basis for the copyright rather than notation), but it does not mean that a jazz musician can record a substantially different or improvised performance of the song which involves substantial modifications or additions to the basic melody and harmony of the song. Jazz musicians typically create derivative works, which usually do not qualify as covers.

    The reason for this is that authors of musical works retain the right to control and limit the creation of derivative works that do not qualify as faithful covers. For example, the author of a love song has the right to stop someone from turning the song into a vehicle for expressing racist or homophobic views. If someone changes the lyrics to a famous song, that is no longer a cover. Likewise, if a jazz musician adds substantial riffs, improvised sections, and other materials to an famous song, this does not qualify as a cover.

    Also, when you say that the gig was "recorded", does this mean it was recorded on audio? Or was it recorded on video (or on an I Phone--which is frequent). If the recording was made on a video, then a mechanical license would not suffice, You would need a synchronization licenses. Mechanical licenses permit only audio recordings.

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  • Media Adaptation

    I want to recreate a Training Video with my own cast and actors. Since i am going to using my own materials and no portion of their video, would i be violating any copyrights? Kind Regards

    Maurice’s Answer

    You are making a derivative work because you are recreating a training video that someone else made. In so doing, you would violate federal copyright law and various state law theories such as unfair competition if you recreate the video without permission from the original copyright owner. It is irrelevant that you are "using your own materials".

    Note, however, that copyright law does not protect general ideas. Therefore, if you wrote an original script for a training vehicle that incorporated the basic training concepts that you learned from the original Training Video, and if your script and training video is not substantially similar to the original video--but is substantially different in content, then you might be able to avoid copyright infringement,

    Copyright law would not stop you from creating your own original training vehicle that covered many of the same issues and used many of the same training techniques as were featured in the original Training video. But copyright law would stop you from "recreating" a training vehicle that was substantially similar to, or clearly derived from, the original training video.

    The issue you raised can be quite complex and the outcome is often very fat intensive. That is why it is never a good idea to rely on a web-site like this making decisions on legal matters---the best you can get from a web-site like this is a general sense of the legal issues and applicable legal doctrines. But in matters like this, the devil is in the details which is why you should retain and work with IP counsel.

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  • Many sellers under one listing with my trademark

    hi, I am selling on an online marketplace. And I create a listing with my registered trademark in the product name. Then many sellers are encouraged to sell under the listing, completing to me on prices, by the marketplace platform operator. Pleas...

    Maurice’s Answer

    This question is not clearly written. It sounds like it might reflect a law school exam or homework assignment.

    There are many web-sites that offer shoppers the opportunity to compare prices of different companies which offer the same products or services. It is perfectly appropriate in such circumstances to show the trademarks associated with the products, services and/or the companies that offer them. This is a classic nominative fair use.

    Competition--including price competition, is perfectly legal.

    Perhaps I am not fully understanding your question----I suggest that you retain IP counsel to review the facts in more detail and determine whether you have any valid claims.

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