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Nancy J Flint

Nancy Flint’s Answers

5 total

  • Is this a strong fair use copyright claim?

    Let's say I've invented a new novel card game that contains 10 cards with pictures of exotic animals from around the world. The toy company wants to play it to see it's feasibility before buying it. So I mock the card game up by taking pictures...

    Nancy’s Answer

    While I don't believe this would be "fair use," your use might be permissible anyway. It is possible that the photographer of the exotic animals might object to your use of their photographs, it sounds as if they have a very "thin" copyright claim. That is because copyright covers works of "authorship," which requires some amount of creativity. If the pictures show the exotic animals as they exist in the wild, without something more to the staging of the photographs, the photographer cannot claim rights to the appearance of the exotic animals and may have no copyright in the photographs at all. This can happen under the doctrines of scenes a faire or merger. You should have a copyright attorney look at the photographs and at your cards to determine if your use is okay.

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  • Do I need permission from the NFL, MLB, NCAA, NHL, or NBA to name my food products after them or their players?

    Starting a unique concept sports themed food business.

    Nancy’s Answer

    Yes, you need their permission to use their logos and team names. These entities are very careful about unauthorized use of their intellectual property and constantly monitor for such uses. When you use their logos/team names, you are raising the appearance to the consumer that they are endorsing your product, and the quality of your product/service reflects on them. As far as using individual player names and likenesses, you would also need their individual permission because of their right to publicity/privacy. That could depend in part on their contracts which could limit the ways they can use their names/likenesses to sell products and services. Search online for the use of player's names and likenesses in video games to get some idea of the objections you would receive.

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  • Can I trademark a common word, used as a business or brand name, if the word is an acronym?

    I want to create a brand name which uses a common word. It's my understand a simple common word can't be trademarked, so my idea is to make it into an acronym. Best example would be CHERRY, Commerce Hospitality of Environment Rest Recovery of Ye...

    Nancy’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    A common word may be registered as a trademark so long as it is not primarily the common name of the goods or services on which it is used. A term that is primarily the common name of the goods/services is "generic" and can never be a trademark. For example, while Shoes cannot be registered as a trademark for footwear, it might be registered for something unrelated, like software, because Shoes is not primarily a common name for software. It is not the fact that this is a common word that is a problem for trademark use but rather it is whether the common word is primarily a common name of the goods or services on which it is used. Here you want to use an acronym that is phonetically a common word so the same analysis will apply. If the acronym is the phonetic equivalent of the common name of the goods/services on which it is to be used, you will run into the same generic issue. The trademark CHERRY flavored products as used on cherry flavored products will almost certainly be considered generic and not able to function as a trademark at all for those products. You can still use CHERRY as your company name, but trade names are different than trademarks and are not registrable at all.

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  • Can I copyright an idea first and then patent it once I get a prototype for it?

    Will the copyright protect my invention in the future from being stolen?

    Nancy’s Answer

    You need to consult a professional about whether your invention can be protected under intellectual property laws. As others have answered, different laws protect different types of intellectual property. In some cases, an invention may be protectible under different laws. For example, source code can be registered for protection under copyright law, and the computer system/method MAY be also protectible under patent law. It absolutely depends on the type of invention. Don't wait too long, however, because you can lose any rights to your invention if someone else invents it and files to protect it before you do. Also, you should consult an attorney because you might prevent yourself from getting a patent on your invention under certain circumstances. Finally, you need to think about whether you are interested in international rights because certain of your actions that might not prevent you from getting a US patent may prevent you from getting a patent in most of the other countries in the world.

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  • What is "personal, non commercial use" and it's opposite?

    I work at a restaurant and I want to play music from Pandora and Pandora.com on the radio there, but the license agreement says specifically for "personal, non-commercial use." Does playing Pandora over the speaker system at the restaurant I work ...

    Nancy’s Answer

    What you describe is NOT personal, non-commercial use - it is a "public performance." Under the U.S. Copyright Act, a public performance of a copyrighted work (such as a song) occurs when the work is performed in a "place open to the public or at a place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances are gathered." A restaurant definitely is a place open to the public.

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