Can I sue someone who has been copying my creative ideas?
4 attorney answers
If you have a trademark you probably can seek enforcement and protection of that, even in the absence of a federal trademark registration or state trademark registration, common law rights will arise and of course, you must meet such requirements. With regards to copyright protection while the federal statute (law) indicates that ideas are not protected, there is the concept of expression/idea dichotomy.
However, there is misunderstanding with regards to protection for ideas, and some courts have allowed such ideas or an idea within and of itself to be protected. There may be options to enforce and protect your rights after you have consulted with an intellectual property attorney.
You probably appreciate that you or anyone else cannot protect a business idea or concept. You can protect your brand (trademarks) and if what you are saying is that the competitor is using your tagline or slogan you may be able to do something about that legally, but it really depends.
Further, if what you are saying is that they are copying your marketing material and copy verbatim then this may certainly amount to a copyright infringement case depending.
In sum, we just don't have near enough information to offer any kind of best course of action here. I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your situation and options in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.
DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed with the law firm of Natoli-Lapin, LLC on the basis of this posting.
You need to contact an IP attorney. You likely have servicemarks and copyrights you can assert. Whether you can assert them successfully depends on many factors not stated, and you will need to review them in detail in confidence with an attorney in order to get an opinion. You will not get one here. I take it you understand you cannot protect the idea, but when someone is using the same words as you do copyrights and trademarks may come into play since they are at least partially automatic. If you rely on copyrights, you will need to register the copyright and you may be unable to obtain statutory copyright damages or attorney fees due to your delay in registration. Likely your primary account in any complaint would be for service mark infringement. Without knowing the words you used and the words she used there is no way to give you any actionable advice other than to call around and see if you can get a free initial consultation with an IP litigation attorney in your area. I am confident civil will respond to this question and you can perhaps choose one of them to begin with. I would caution you not to release the specific details of this here on this public forum.
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.
Further information about your case is required, but a trademark only provides you legal protection against persons who publicly use your mark (or similar variations thereof) without your permission in relation to whatever goods or services your mark is registered under. If she is using your mark in this way, you have multiple options short of litigation, including sending a cease and desist letter, and even getting her website blocked based on sending a website takedown notice to her website's Internet Service Provider depending on the facts of your case.
To help determine whether an infringement has occurred and what your best options are moving forward, you should consult with a qualified intellectual property attorney to assist you. Good luck!
This response is only general information and is not legal advice. It does not form an attorney-client relationship and should not be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. You should seek a qualified attorney before taking any action related to your inquiry.