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I have a website for rentals in my town in Victoria TX. I

I have a website for...
I have a website for rentals in my town in Victoria TX. I had a customer who advertised on my site. I built her a webpage, took pictures of her rentals, wrote the copy for the webpage and made up a name for her apartment building, "Topy's Place." Sadly, she died recently. Her daughter inherited her property. The daughter didn't want to continue advertising. Fine. Recently I discovered that she had created her own website. Fine. What was not fine is that she was using my webpage design, my pictures, my copy, and my name. My website has a copyright statement. I contacted her by e-mail, informing her of the situation and that she was in violation of my copyright, and I offered to come to an agreement if she wanted to advertise again. She hasn't responded to my e-mails or phone calls, but she quickly changed the copy and the pictures; however, she is still using the name, "Topsy's Place" and the webpage design. After several attempts to communicate without any response from her, I e-mailed her again and instructed her to "cease and desist" using the name. I called her again today. Her husband answered. He wouldn't put her on, and he said I only own the copyright to the website and I should contact his lawyer if I wanted to pursue it. I want to know whether I am right in insisting that I own the name, and have the right to tell her to cease and desist using the name I created.
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Answered in 3 minutes by:
8/19/2013
Dimitry K., Esq.
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 41,221
Experience: I assist my clients with IP questions that arise in their daily course of doing business.
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Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you.

That is a good question. Was her trade name ever recorded, or you do not know?
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

I'm not sure what you mean by "recorded." I made up the name for her. Many of my advertisers are private apartment owners without a web presence. I often give them marketing assistance, such as the kind I have described. This is part of the service for the website. They subscribe for a mere $200 per year, and I build the page for free. My website is through godaddy.com. I have a registered domain. I build and maintain the site myself. The statement at the bottom of every webpage reads, "Content copyright 2013. Uphill Properties, LLC. All rights reserved." I hope this answers your question.

Janice,

Thank you for your follow-up. "Making up" a name for someone does not make that name yours. If you made up a jingle, a design, or some other marketing campaign, then that specific intellectual property belongs to you if protected or if so stated under contract. But making up a trade name or a company name belongs to the company who uses it. That name belongs to the company and not to you. While you can sue them for using your content and for using your designs for the webpage, you cannot sue for what they began using as their trademark because that became 'their' property when it became associated with their company name. I agree with you that all other information belongs to you, but not the company name as that is an inherent property right to the company. If you had an express agreement under which it stated that you reserve the right to their name, you could argue that the name was part of marketing and reverts back to you. Otherwise, that is not the case, I am afraid.

Good luck.

Dimitry K., Esq.
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 41,221
Experience: I assist my clients with IP questions that arise in their daily course of doing business.
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Dimitry K., Esq. and 87 other Intellectual Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

OK. I just wanted to know my standing. I appreciate the fast and clearly written explanation. Thank you.

Janice,

Not a problem and truly glad to help. I appreciate your kind words. Please let me know if there is anything else that I can assist you with. If not, please do not forget to positively rate my answers to you so I can obtain credit for my work. Thank you!

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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 41,221
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