Intellectual Property Law
Intellectual Property Law Questions? Ask a Lawyer
Hello: I see you have a question about copyright law but the actual question is not showing up here. I think from your write up that you will have others make images for you and those will go on t-shirts. If that is correct, you will simply need to have them assign their rights in the copyright of the images etc. over to you when you purchase them or have them come up with the images as employees of your company if that is the case. Here is a simply form you can use to assign the rights in the copyrights: http://www.copylaw.com/forms/copyassn.html. If this does not respond to your question feel free to post any follow up you may have and I will respond as quickly as possible. Best, David
Thank you for the additional information. Federal law will protect all images or likenesses and trademarks under copyright trademark laws so what will most times happen is if one of these companies thinks the variation product is too close they will send a cease and desist letter making the entity stop selling the product because it infringes their intellectual property rights. In most cases they stop and then start over as a new company doing same or similar things and the cycle continues until they finally get sued for infringement of U.S. intellectual property laws. The other thing that happens is if these are being sold online like on amazon for instance selling bootlegged or counterfeit products will get the person banned from the site. I would encourage you to make sure the variation products are sufficiently different from the original in your opinion so as to not appear to be a counterfeit otherwise you will start to get shut down as time passes and the lawyers start finding the products for sale. Best, David
I am not certain we are talking on same terms, but if a drawing or piece of work is recreated even once without permission of the copyright owner that would be considered a violation of federal law. Should a person continually recreate those images each instance would be considered a violation of the law assuming it is a copy of the original work. If you are talking making something look similar to the original as an iteration of that original work whether that violates the person's copyright is a question that must be determined based on comparing the two items side by side and determining if it is really a copy or not. Making small immaterial changes to a work will not avoid copyright infringement if the underlying design elements are there.
The judge of similarity would be the jury if the matter goes to court. The party claiming infringement will allege it infringes even if the items are not that similar to try and get you to stop.
My pleasure, feel free to post any follow up if you have further questions.