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I copyrighted an entire webpage and internet based platform in which I am the original creator, producer, html developer

Houston, TX |
Filed under: Internet law

I put my copyright on each and every page i.e. ©my name. I have not officially filed a copyright with any agency. I have also purchased the "domain name" for the webpage. Someone has made a bogus claim (it is just a statement and they have not asked that I take it down) they said that I cannot use the domain name without their permission, they do not have a federal copyright of the name, and again I am the original producer of all the work contained in the webpage. BUT based on the fact that I own the domain name and am the original producer of all work on the webpage I have no idea why I should require their permission for anything.

Question, can I claim, theft of copyright, or copyright infringement against them IF I have not officially registered the copyright with any agency?

Attorney Answers 4

Posted

Your immediate need is to sit down with a trademark attorney to determine if you may lawfully register and/or publish a webpage at the domain name that you've selected. Someone says no -- which means they believe that the domain name infringes or dilutes their already-existing trademark or trade name rights. So look into that matter and do not simply conclude that their claim is "bogus." It might very well be legitimate and that YOU are the wrongdoer. The fact that you created material that you want to publish on that website is irrelevant.

The above is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should NOT be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney. You should seek the advice of competent counsel before taking any action related to your inquiry.

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Asker

Posted

I've read up on your trademark expertise and since you are apparently one of the best in the industry obviously I am taking everything you say very seriously. Well I know they have no trademark because the USPTO "refused" their trademark and also required that they "disclaim" utilization of the merely descriptive words they are trying to pass off as their trademark. Finally, the USPTO has documented that they abandoned their trademark, so given any big surprise I have no choice than to believe the USPTO. I know that there are a lot of trolling attorneys out there and I think that this is one of them. The issue would be why, I am obviously not a big buck lawsuit but I assume they like my work and want to get credit for it and/or are doing a shakedown to see if i will come up with something. At any rate I don't understand how creating original computer codes and wanted to publish my own work makes me a wrongdoer! Do they own the domain name --- No I purchased it. Is the domain similar to anything they use/own NO we are not even in the same type of business. I cannot afford an attorney and I can either sit back and let them run circles around me or i can protect my rights to the best of my ability --- however humble that might be. Thank you for taking the time to response to my question.

Daniel Nathan Ballard

Daniel Nathan Ballard

Posted

You are quite welcome. A few concluding thoughts: (1) Be wary of the conclusions that you've drawn from reading the trademark registration application file -- the Trademark Office has NO authority to pass judgment on whether a person or company owns any rights in a trademark. All it's allowed to do is determine whether a mark meets the statutory requirements for registration and, if so, who has the right to register. The person or company who's complaining that you have no right to register the domain name that you have may -- most certainly and regardless of what the Trademark Office has concluded about registrability -- own trademark rights that you are infringing or otherwise invading by registering and/or using the domain name. (2) You are NOT a wrongdoer for "creating original computer codes and want[ing] to publish" that work. You may be a wrongdoer for registering the domain name that you have registered. (3) IF the person or company does own trademark rights in whatever word or phrase that you registered as a domain name then, under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, it does not matter that what they brand with that mark and what you will be selling at that domain name are vastly different -- the issue in a cybersquatting case [which this is] is NOT whether there's confusion in the marketplace. The issue is whether you had "bad faith" when registering a domain name that is confusingly similiar to an already-existing trademark. (4) As for getting legal help, you should query Google for Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts and see if it provides low or no cost services. Also check with the Houston Bar Association for the same thing. Lastly, you could contact a trademark or internet law professor at one of your local law schools who may be able to help or who could find you a third year student or recent graduate who may help. Good luck.

Asker

Posted

Thank you for taking the time to help me I really appreciate it.

Posted

You are in urgent need of an Intellectual Property lawyer. You are likely infringing a trademark and do not know it. If you have copyright (which cover works of art fixed in a tangible medium of expression) with trademarks & servicemarks (which cover brand names, that is words, symbols or devices that serve to indicate a common source for goods or services). Misuse of someone else's trademark or servicemark, particularly if registered for similar goods or services can put you at risk under 15 USC 1114 http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/15/1114

Owning a domain name does not mean you have the legal right to use the domain name in commerce. My guess is you don't. Get an attorney since you got an "IP wake-up call." Doing this without an attorney is why you are in this mess and why you don't appear to have a clue about why you are in trouble.

You better not be claiming copyright infringement against someone for having a trademark they used and registered prior to you registering your domain name. That would backfire badly on you. Get that attorney ASAP. You need to unlearn much of what you have incorrectly "learned".

I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.

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Bruce E. Burdick

Bruce E. Burdick

Posted

typo in second sentence: "If you have" should be "You have apparently confused a" Copyright, by the way, is not something you DO OR DON'T DO, it's something that happens by law, specifically 17 USC 102. http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/102. That is, it's automatic. However, you need to register the copyright to give it real value, and you need to do it within 3 months of publication. I am betting you blew that deadline and now lost the key value to your copyrights, statutory damages. That's what you get (nothing) when you pay nothing for an attorney. Time to lawyer up, my friend.

Asker

Posted

Thank you for your response. I understood that there is common law copyright and that technically you own a copyright by being the original producer of it and that as long as you put the © symbol on your work you are claiming copyright and you do not technically have to formally register it with an agency. Thank you for the url reference I am going to study it. Yes, I read case law on statutory damages, and you are right I probably did miss the deadline. I have checked the USPTO office they do not have a trademark. They do not have a trademark registered with the State we live in. I don't know if they are claiming common law trademark but I don't see how because they have never used it and/or protected it in commerce. I agree I am out of my league and need an attorney but it is not because I am not willing to lawyer up i just do not have the money to hire one and have no choice but to protect whatever rights i have to the best of my ability. There apparently are a lot of people in my situation who desperately need an attorney and are not being deadbeat by not hiring one but simply do not have the financial means to do so. My choices are to fight as best as I can and/or just let them run over me and take the consequences of not fighting. You are aware no one is going to take this case on a contingency basis.

Daniel Nathan Ballard

Daniel Nathan Ballard

Posted

Attorney Burdick is wrong about copyright damages law. There is no 3 month deadline that, if missed, results in a copyright owner losing the possibility of being awarded statutory damages and attorneys fees. As long as a copyright is registered AT ANY TIME before the infringement occurs the copyright owner may be awarded statutory damages and attorneys' fees.

Asker

Posted

Yes, thank you. From the research I've done your correct. I plan to officially register my copyrighted material ASAP.

Posted

Agreed. You are likely going to find yourself on the wrong end of this deal. Moreover, you can't file suit against someone for copyright when you yourself admit you don't even have it registered. Take down your site and get a lawyer.

Know YOUR Rights. Take Action Now. CALL 855-648-4695. Legal disclaimer:This message does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Any statements are made for general informational purposes and do not constitute legal advice. Mr. Crockett is licensed in Texas in Illinois only.

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Asker

Posted

Thank you for your response. I understood that there is common law copyright and that technically you own a copyright by being the original producer of it and that as long as you put the © symbol on your work you are claiming copyright and you do not technically have to formally register it with an agency.

Posted

I agree with a great deal of the good analysis of the other lawyers. As a practical matter, you might want to have a free consultation with a lawyer to discuss the specifics. There are people that make these claims to harass and extort. Of course, it might be a legitimate claim.

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Stephen Neil Foster

Stephen Neil Foster

Posted

Regardless, congratulations on having something of enough value that someone wants to keep it from you!

Asker

Posted

Well I guess we could look at it that way! Thanks.

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