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Can I do a poor mans trademark and it be legal??: I am starting my first business venture and I have little to no money. I am starting a funraising campaign with my logo nad business name with sloaagns I was wondering if I am able to poor mans trademark to begin my campaign. I feel like my name is original and greata and odnt want anyone to steal it before I can get the money to put it to great use. I don't care about the logo as much as I care about the name!

Asked 1 day ago in Intellectual Property

Andrew’s answer: Here's the good news: as soon as you use the mark in selling goods and services, you have rights. Just be very sure that you are not trampling on anyone else's rights by having a mark that is confusingly similar to consumers. To use an Oakland example, if you are opening up a restaurant, "Everett & James" is highly likely to be confusing to those who like the venerable Everett & Jones BBQ. Google is a great way to search for word marks, and there are ways of search for logos online as well, although it tends to be more hit-and-miss.
For most startups that don't have a lot of cash lying around, I encourage them to wait on registering the trademark until the business is on a growth curve and has enough of a positive cash flow to pay for it. However, keep a good copy or three of your first use, preferably dated to establish the priority of first use.

Answered 1 day ago.


Can I end up indemnified if work produced as "work for hire" results in company being sued for copyright or Right of Pub.?: I was approached by a museum (museum isn't a non-profit but an "inc.", if that matters) to write puns for an exhibition that include celebrity names and song titles. They've sent me a work for hire contract, indicating they would own all of the IP. If one of the celebrities brought suit against the museum for copyright infringement or Right of Publicity, can I be brought into the lawsuit / potentially indemnified or does signing everything away keep me protected? The museum is in California.

Asked 3 days ago in Intellectual Property

Andrew’s answer: First, the good news: puns tend to be "transformational," which means that they are fair use and therefore not subject to claims for copyright infringement or violation of the rights of publicity (Cal. Civ. Code secs. 3344 and 3344.1). This tends to be especially true for the good puns that are classy, not trashy.
Second, also good news: this is something that you want indemnification for in the contract being developed. Make sure it is explicit in the contract itself. While indemnification has its limits (it is only as deep as the insurance and pockets of the indemnitor), the final decision as to which puns to use will be the museum's, not yours. Contact a lawyer to review any contracts to make sure you are covered.

Answered 2 days ago.


How do I know if I'm breaking copyright law? And if I am safe to sell something?: I am a jewelry retailer/reseller. I see people who do the same thing as me selling watches that look almost the exact same to brands like Patek Phillipe, and also selling jewelry that is literally just the logo from a company like Bape or Mercedes Benz.

So how do I know if it is okay for me to sell items like this? And because I am not actually manufacturing the item, I'm just buying it and then re-selling it, would I be given a notice to just stop selling the items?

I am concerned for my business in this regard and appreciate any advice.

Asked 3 days ago in Intellectual Property

Andrew’s answer: There was a great "All in the Family" episode back in the 1970s, where Archie Bunker was happy to buy an "Omega" watch for just $10. His meathead son-in-law pointed out it actually said "Onega" and it had stopped working.
Stay away from knock-offs -- they are rip-offs. If you are selling something that someone is likely to confuse with a more famous mark, the owners of the famous mark can go after you as the seller, which will cost you your reputation and many thousands of dollars. In the long run, you are only hurting your own interests by selling knock-offs.

Answered 3 days ago.