How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Thomas Swartz Your Own Question
Thomas Swartz
Thomas Swartz, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 3023
Experience:  Twenty one years experience as a lawyer in New York and New Jersey. Former Appellate Law Clerk.
8370490
Type Your Intellectual Property Law Question Here...
Thomas Swartz is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I'm an etsy crafter/seller, and another seller has accused

This answer was rated:

I'm an etsy crafter/seller, and another seller has accused me of copyright infringement. We both make christmas ornaments using strips of paper curled from old books. Our products are similar, but not exact copies. It seems to me this other seller is claiming a copyright over the idea or process of curling the paper and putting it in an ornament. Can they copyright that?
JA: Do you have a registration record?
Customer: No. This seller does not have her copyright registered.
JA: Have you talked to a local attorney? Has anything been filed in court?
Customer: Nothing has been filed in court, but based on their claim, Etsy was obligated to take down my listings. I haven't talked to a local attorney yet. I wasn't sure where to start. For such a small business, it seems like a huge undertaking to bring this to court.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: If needed I can provide examples of the listings.

Hello JACUSTOMER,

You are correct that you cannot claim copyright over the idea or process of using strips of paper to make Christmas ornaments. Copyright does not protect ideas, it only protects how particular ideas are expressed in works of authorship. This is clearly set forth in the copyright law at 17 U.S. Code 102(b) which provides:

(b) In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.

So, the other seller really has no legitimate claim of copyright infringement against you for merely using the same technique or process of making these ornaments. If you copied the particular ornaments the other seller made there might be a legitimate claim. But if your ornaments are different there is no legitimate copyright claim.

In terms of Etsy, the only thing I can suggest is that you point them to 17 U.S. Code 102(b) and simply argue that merely using the same technique is not copyright infringement.

I hope this helps.

Thomas

Thomas Swartz and 2 other Intellectual Property Law Specialists are ready to help you

Related Intellectual Property Law Questions