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Brett J. Trout

Brett Trout’s Answers

5 total

  • Can I take photos of dogs on the web and turn the photos in to cartoons and put them on tshirts?

    I want to make tshirts with dogs on them and I want to have different breeds with funny sayings. For example if I google Bassett hound and all of these photographsof Bassett Hounds pop up, if I change them with software into cartoon images is tha...

    Brett’s Answer

    The following information is not legal advice, is provided for educational purposes only and does not constitute formation of an attorney-client relationship. As the law varies from state to state, contact an attorney in your state before taking, or refraining from taking, any action which may affect your legal rights.

    Unless the photographs were published prior to 1923, you have to obtain permission to use them. Be careful. Even if a website asserts photographs are in the "public domain" or "royalty free" there is no guarantee the poster did not steal the photographs from the actual author.

    While sites like Flickr have some fairly liberal usage terms, many of the photographs prevent use for commercial purposes and require author attribution. Your best bet would be to either take the photographs yourself, or license the photographs from a reputable source. Using photographs without permission is a good way to get an insiders view of your fancy federal courthouse.

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  • Legal liability of an employee whose startup employer is infringing on intellectual property

    As an employee of a startup software company, I am being directed to perform a task that I believe is a violation of another company's IP. Specifically, I am working to capture and repackage proprietary financial market data, in violation of the o...

    Brett’s Answer

    The following information is not legal advice, is provided for educational purposes only and does not constitute formation of an attorney-client relationship. As the law varies from state to state, contact an attorney in your state before taking, or refraining from taking, any action which may affect your legal rights.

    While copyright law is federal, employment law is generally governed by various state laws. The issues surrounding violating terms of use and copyright infringement are complex and typically require an expert analysis of the law and the facts to accurately assess the potential liability. While people have been criminally prosecuted for both terms of use violations and copyright infringement, these cases are generally limited to situations where the violator clearly understood what they were doing was wrong.

    You should meet with an experienced employment attorney in your state. Explain the issues and your goals. The employment attorney may wish to bring in an intellectual property attorney with experience in liability associated with copyright infringement and violations of terms of use. Whether you ultimately decide to continue with the project or confront your employer, you need to know your options, as well as the potential consequences, before moving forward.

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  • I invented something, but I have no idea of what I need to do to make it happen.

    What are the steps I need to take to make sure its protected under the law as well as the name of the product I invented.

    Brett’s Answer

    The first thing you should do is to meet with a patent attorney who has experience drafting patents in the area of your invention. Many patent attorneys offer an initial free consultation to determine your goals, what your invention is and how best to protect your invention to meet those goals. The patent attorney should also be able to assist you in protecting the name of the product with a trademark.

    Bear in mind that not all patents are created equally. An experienced and knowledgeable patent attorney will likely draft a much better patent than a patent attorney with less skill or experience. A better patent affords you broader coverage when carving out you monopoly, making it difficult for would-be competitors to "design around" the patent and compete with you.

    A better patent is also more defensible in court. Even tiny mistakes in the patent application process can lead to the patent later being held invalid and unenforceable. You may want to consider hiring a patent attorney with a solid track record of defending patents in court. Patent attorneys who have successfully defended patents in court know what they like to see in a patent to avoid invalidity and prove infringement.

    The goal is to obtain the best patent possible. In the event an infringer appears, a broad defensible patent will increase the odds the infringer will enter into a license agreement, rather than force you to sue them in court. It is important to set an initial consultation with a patent attorney as soon as possible, as both patent and trademark rights can be lost if you delay.

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  • Is there a loop hole in the copyright laws concerning the copying of text books.

    I have a great business idea regarding the copying of text books. I have studied a few supreme court cases regarding the issue and the U.S. copyright laws. I don't want to spill my idea all over the internet, but I do need brief advise as to wheth...

    Brett’s Answer

    United States copyright law does have a narrow "fair use" exception based upon:

    1) The purpose and character of your work-Are you making money from the copies?
    2) Nature of copyrighted work-Is it a form book meant to be copied?
    3) Amount of work taken-Are you taking 90% of the work or 2%?
    4) Economic impact of taking-Are you taking the 2% that makes people want to buy the original?

    There are other important considerations, such as whether you will be using the material in a classroom setting. This is a complex issue which merits a careful analysis as well as substantially more information.

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  • Will a trademark be approved for registration if it contains same letters as a famous brand name that is already registered?

    I would like to register the following trademark for my new bath and body line: "Fradove" will it be too similiar to the popular "Dove" name that is registered for bath and body products? I dont want to waste another filing fee-thanks in a...

    Brett’s Answer

    The question is one of "likelihood of confusion". If it is likely that consumers would be confused that the makers of Dove are the source or origin of the product you sell, it is unlikely the USPTO will approve your federal trademark application.

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