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Ask Robert McEwen, Esq. Your Own Question
Robert McEwen, Esq.
Robert McEwen, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 16775
Experience:  Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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Last year at school I presented a logo with my hand and a dogs

Customer Question

Last year at school I presented a logo with my hand and a dogs paw... I designed that logo and copyrighted it. Now, a year later the school has a similar picture of a student with a paw just that the law is on the left and not on e right. They have never used that picture before until I introduced it. my question is, is the school allowed to use a picture like that? Or would be just my hand and the dogs paw protected?
Thanks for your help.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Another question I would have is how can I protect the hand holding paw idea? The idea of protecting the logo was, that nobody is allowed to use the hand holding paw idea anymore?
Expert:  Robert McEwen, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for using JustAnswer. I'm sorry to hear about your situation. I'm trying to visualize the two designs. Do you have links to the images so that I can get an idea of what they look like?
Expert:  Robert McEwen, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Did you see my follow up question to your issue?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Robert,
sorry for the late response. Yes I do have the links. My protected artwork is attached.
I guess my question is when does the copyright I received kicks in?
This link is the picture I am concerned about: last year took a similar picture (unfortunately my computer got stolen and I don't have any access to any of the documents anymore. This picture is now my logo.So I guess I am simply wondering what exactly is protected under the copyright? When this picture was posted people clearly saw that it has a lot of similarities with the picture I presented a year ago. This ( picture is the original picture of the Logo and as you can see there is a lot of similarity.
I am just simply wondering when is somebody breaking the copyright law and what is allowed? I am not really good in reading big explanations like the explanation on the copyright page.
My goal eventually is, that the picture of of the hand and the paw is protected and it's not allowed to take similar pictures with that pose - I don't know if that's even possible. But as you can see the first link I shared people are mentioning my name and are confused, that it actually is my picture and it is not. Though I have a copyright for the picture, but again I would like to know what exactly is protected and when is somebody breaking the copyright?
Thank you so much for your help.
Expert:  Robert McEwen, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for that clarification. I assume that the black and white stylized image with the red heart is the one that you have copyrighted. Copyright infringement requires actual copying. That requires proof of access and knowledge. Now it's entirely possible that the designer of the image that you're asking about saw your image and used it. That could constitute copyright infringement, but not necessarily so. You see, ideas are not copyrightable. Only expressions of ideas. A human shaking a dog's hand is a pretty common idea. Do a Google image search for "dog paw in hand" and you'll get a lot of results. This probably stems from the fact that this is a common (and easy for the dog to learn) trick. So a dog's paw in a human hand is not going to be "specific" enough to be copyrightable. Note that a specific picture can be copyrighted, in that if you take a photograph of this happening, or draw a picture or otherwise design an image, that specific design, photograph, image is protected. But that doesn't mean that the underlying idea is necessarily protected. A book about a magical boy is not "copyrightable" because it's merely an idea. But you start making it specific (name the boy "Harry Potter", have him go to "Hogwarts", etc...) then you start getting expressions of that idea. In the same sense, the idea of a paw in a hand is not going to be copyrightable because of where that idea comes from (a common trick). But each photograph or image can still be copyrighted, and if they had used your specific copyrighted image then that could be copyright infringement. The problem is that you would have to show that they got the idea AND the expression of that idea from you, and to be honest I don't think that a jury would agree (absent some "smoking gun" evidence such as an email where they acknowledge that you were the creator of this expression and that it's copying your expression). Hope that clears things up a bit. 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, ***** ***** luck to you!
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Robert, thanks so much for your detailed answer. That clarifies a lot. I just presented that specific picture last year In class and the lady who took the picture was sitting in class last year and saw the picture. Therefore the question came up what they are allows to, since people came up to me and told me that they used my picture, which wasn't my picture.
Anyhow, thank you for your detailed response and I will leave a rating soon.
Expert:  Robert McEwen, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
My pleasure. Thank you, ***** ***** good luck to you!
Expert:  Robert McEwen, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Did you have any other questions before you rate this answer? Please note that I am still here, awaiting your response or rating... (please note that rating closes this question out, so if there's nothing else, please rate it so that I can assist other customers that are waiting for answers to their questions)