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Alex Reese
Alex Reese, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
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Experience:  Experienced in intellectual property law
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A creator of a Ceramics line copyrighted the work in 1979.

Resolved Question:

A creator of a Ceramics line copyrighted the work in 1979. She is deseased,her sister gave the molds,equipment, and verbal approval for my friend to make and sell the pieces.I have bought all the molds,equipment,etc. The agreement I have gives me quote"sole rights to trademark (NAME OF ARTIST,COPYRIGHT OWNER),sole rights to her name, likeness,marketing,etc."goodwill"in all aspects of marketing,finishes,list and introduction of customers. My question is this..Would the woman selling me the business need a legal document from the(deseased) original owners next of kin(heir), the son ( I would assume)before she could legally make this transfer to me? The sister of the deseased gave verbal approval and the woman wanting to sell me the business has been selling the work. Am I legally protected or must I ensure the next of kin has released interest in the copyright before this woman could transfer it to me?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Expert:  Alex Reese replied 1 year ago.

Alex Reese :

hello

Alex Reese :

first, the language you recite refers to TM concepts. copyright protects specific works of art, and is separate from TM rights.

Alex Reese :

you definitely want written documentation showing that the person transferring the rights to you indeed owns those rights. a verbal agreement can be binding, but it is far from ideal and presents some risk.

Alex Reese :

so if you want to re-reproduce any of the deceased's works, you need to make sure you are given all the copyrights to those works

Customer:

Thanks. would the son actually be the legal heir to the copyright?

Alex Reese :

I can't say that because it would depend on the terms of the Will or intestate succession mechanism for that situation/family

Alex Reese :

but in the absence of a will or other family members with priority in succession...yes it would go to the son

Customer:

I understand their was no will, but the family member that paid for her funeral wanted 1.000.00 from the woman whom has been making and selling the ceramic pieces.

Alex Reese :

you want to make sure the rights you are given are in writing....both for trademarks and copyrights

Alex Reese :

that is the most important thing

Alex Reese :

so if you are thinking you have the copyrights (right to reproduce her works)....make sure that is in writing

Customer:

If the family member has legal rights( how would I know? ) then could he sign over the rights to the woman , then she to me? These are wonderful people, very bohemian/hippy types, not at all easy to discuss legalities with.I am hoping to keep thisas simple as possible, and stay out of it until the current lady has the proper legal control

Customer:

I want to be sure that , upon realizing the molds, equipment, etc has been sold, some relative doe not come out of the woodwork and sue me!

Alex Reese :

yes the rights can be transferred to the woman and then to you

Alex Reese :

TM is very different from copyright so at minimum you want to also have a statement that says you have rights to all copyrights in the works

Alex Reese :

it is not always clear if someone has the rights to intangible property when its not specifically set forth in a will etc. but there should be some document they can show that reflects their ownership of the deceased's property

Alex Reese :

you should perhaps come up with your own proposed language and get them to "ok" it....that way you don't have to discuss it

Customer:

I do have all this in writing, but not sure the woman who was given everything verbally by the sister of the deseased even had the legal right to convey it....so, should she get the transfer from the son or how would I know for sure whom has the legal right to it?

Alex Reese :

unless they have an issue with it

Alex Reese :

you should ask them if they have any kind of documentation to show their ownership

Alex Reese :

or ask the woman if she has or can get it

Alex Reese :

or you get them to sign something in writing saying they had ownership and transferred it to the woman

Customer:

As in, have whomever is in charge sign a simple basic conveyance of copyright(can it be simple, boilerplate doc?)to the woman, then she and I do the same?

Alex Reese :

that will help a lot

Alex Reese :

yes it can be very simple

Customer:

thankyou....yes!

Alex Reese :

best of luck

Customer:

I apreciate you.

Alex Reese :

please don't forget to rate my response, thanks!

Alex Reese, Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 3059
Experience: Experienced in intellectual property law
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