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Ask Robert McEwen, Esq. Your Own Question

Robert McEwen, Esq.
Robert McEwen, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 11296
Experience:  Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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In 2009, someone saying they were Gettys Images contacted

Customer Question

In 2009, someone saying they were Getty's Images contacted me by phone, saying that I had violated their TradeMark. My first impression was that is was not really Getty's, so I emailed them. It was! I know the seriousness of TradeMark / CopyRights. But I did not
do, nor could not do, what they are saying. I found an image on Google Images of a pet
mouse and a telephone, that I put on my website for a Contact Us. They said I had altered
their Pet mouse on a wheel image. I could not do that! I am 74 years old, love my computer things, but I could not have removed the wheel. They are charging me $1286.00. When I explained in 2009, as I have here, they reduced it to $635. and I repeated again my side, did not hear any more until yesterday and they have a lawyer
involved. What can be done for me? I am on social security. But the main thing is I did
not do what they are saying! Thanks!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Expert:  Robert McEwen, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Thank you for using JustAnswer. I am researching your issue and will respond shortly.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

By having a lawyer involved, do you mean that they're suing, or that they merely sent you a letter from a lawyer's office?

Customer:

They sent me a letter, requesting immediate payment, to resolve it.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Thank you. This is often a tactic that they use to try to get you to pay. It's very rare that they actually file a lawsuit, especially in a situation such as yours. Getty has a notorious track record of sending these out, but I've only seen very few actual lawsuits, and those typically involve serious loss of income on Getty's part. You see, litigation is very expensive for them, and they typically only pursue the cases that they think will be beneficial.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Social security is exempt from most types of garnishment (including a judgment from this type of case)

RobertMcEwenEsq :

So if you don't have any other income or significant assets, you're likely what we lawyers call "judgment proof".

RobertMcEwenEsq :

That means that a lawsuit would cost more than could be recovered.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Again, they can't touch your social security income, which is protected by law.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

(it can only be garnished for tax bills, child support and spousal support obligations)

RobertMcEwenEsq :

If I were you, I would write them back, letting them know that you completely contest that you ever used any one of their images, that you never altered anything, and that even if you did, you could not afford this since you're on Social Security, which you know is exempt.

Customer:

I have a small pension, of $389 a month, and a joke for alimony of $50 a month.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

My guess is that you'll never hear from them again.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Pension is also exempt.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Most retirement benefits are.

Customer:

I do have some monies in my name that were of my parents, and I intend

Customer:

to pass them on to my family.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

I would let this firm know about the social security only...

Customer:

But this is their 2nd attempt, in 2009 and now!!

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Again, they're not going to pursue something if they don't think that they can get anything out of you.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

I understand.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Letters are cheap.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Most likely no one actually even saw this, but it was a form letter with a few things filled in.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

It cost the firm 50 cents to send it. If they send out a thousand of these, and get responses on 10, they've made money.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Litigation is FAR more expensive (starting at $10,000).

RobertMcEwenEsq :

Like I said, they're not going to spend money where they know that they're not going to recover their damages.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

And once they know that you can't pay (and of course, they know they can't get your social security) then they'll almost certainly stop trying.

Customer:

Should my 'letter' to them be an email, as they did respond to mine, or

Customer:

would a postal one be any better. I don't see that it would be, as I have my proof ot it.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

I would do both, just to make certain that they get it.

RobertMcEwenEsq :

(there's no harm in sending it multiple times)

Customer:

ok, sounds good! You do make me feel lots better and I appreciate. I was scared to do this, now I am glad that I did. You make real good sense!!!

RobertMcEwenEsq :

My pleasure.If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. Please note that I don't get any credit for my answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX good luck to you!

Customer:

ok, thanks!

Robert McEwen, Esq., Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 11296
Experience: Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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