Intellectual Property & Contracting Issues for Web & Graphic Designers


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Presented by Barbara Berschler at Refresh DC on February 18, 2010

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Intellectual Property & Contracting Issues for Web & Graphic Designers

  1. 1. Presented by Barbara I. Berschler, Esq. © Barbara Berschler 2009
  2. 2. Subjects to Be Covered <ul><li>Introduction to “What is copyright?” </li></ul><ul><li>Introduction to “What is a trademark?” </li></ul><ul><li>Introduction to “What is a trade secret?” </li></ul><ul><li>What are some contract drafting issues for designers? </li></ul>
  3. 3. What Is Copyright? <ul><li>Exclusive rights granted by law to the creator (“author”) of a copyrighted work for a limited period of time. </li></ul><ul><li>Exclusive rights are to: reproduce, make derivative works, distribute, perform, display and transmit (sound recordings). </li></ul>
  4. 4. How Is Copyright Created and Protected? <ul><li>In the U.S., copyright protection automatically attaches once a work is fixed in any tangible medium of expression provided the work meets certain minimum standards . </li></ul>
  5. 5. What Are Some Kinds of Works that Can Be Protected by Copyright? <ul><li>Literary works (software applications) </li></ul><ul><li>Musical works (original music) </li></ul><ul><li>Pictorial, and graphic works (look & feel of webpage, photographs) </li></ul><ul><li>Motion picture & audiovisual works </li></ul><ul><li>Sound recordings (3 rd party works) </li></ul><ul><li>[Note: this is not a complete list of works eligible for copyright protection!] </li></ul>
  6. 6. What Kinds of Works Are Not Protected by Copyright? <ul><li>Ideas, procedures, systems, methods of operation, concepts, principles or discoveries (look to patents & trade secrets for protection). </li></ul><ul><li>Works in the Public Domain (expired copyrighted works, certain federal government works). </li></ul>
  7. 7. What Kind of Intellectual Material Is Protected by Copyright? <ul><li>Expression of the idea, not the idea itself. </li></ul><ul><li>Work that is original to the author. </li></ul><ul><li>In the work’s development there was a minimum level of creativity involved. </li></ul>
  8. 8. How Long Does Copyright Typically Last? <ul><li>For individuals: life of the author plus 70 years. </li></ul><ul><li>For entities: 95 years from publication. </li></ul>
  9. 9. What Is a “Work Made for Hire?” <ul><li>Work created by an employee in scope of employment. </li></ul><ul><li>Specially commissioned work that falls within one of nine categories: contribution to a collective work, motion picture, translation, supplementary work, compilation, instructional text, test, answers to test, atlas. (These works would be created by independent contractors.) </li></ul>
  10. 10. How Does a Non-Creator Come to Own the Copyright? <ul><li>If an employee creates it. Employer owns. </li></ul><ul><li>If it is a “work made for hire” and you have a prior written agreement to that effect. </li></ul><ul><li>If it is another kind of creative work and you have a prior written assignment of the copyright from the creator. </li></ul><ul><li>By inheritance. </li></ul>
  11. 11. What Is Copyright Notice? Why Do It? <ul><li>Easier to prove willful infringement </li></ul><ul><li>May deter potential infringers </li></ul><ul><li>Place copyright notice on the 1 st published edition </li></ul><ul><li>Notice has 3 elements: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Copyright symbol </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Owner’s name (may be different from author) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Year of publication </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Why Register a Copyrighted Work with the Copyright Office? <ul><li>Registration is not required to obtain copyright protection. </li></ul><ul><li>Registration in the U.S. accords benefits: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cannot file a lawsuit to enforce without it </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Certain proofs easier to make </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Statutory damages may be available </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Attorney fees may be available </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. What If More Than One Person Is Involved in Creating the Work? <ul><li>To avoid problems, have a written agreement as to who will do what and stating it is intention of parties that it is a “joint work.” </li></ul><ul><li>If there is no written agreement, the law gives co-owners certain rights (undivided interest, exercise of exclusive rights, accounting for profits). </li></ul>
  14. 14. What Is Copyright Infringement? <ul><li>Someone other than the copyright owner exercising one of the exclusive rights without the permission of the owner. </li></ul><ul><li>Unless there is a statutory limitation (fair use, reproduction by libraries), there may be strict liability. </li></ul>
  15. 15. What Is a Trademark or Service Mark? <ul><li>A mark (word, design, sound) that indicates to the public the source of the goods or services being offered. </li></ul><ul><li>The mark must always be used in conjunction with the existing business or enterprise. (Non-profits are eligible to own trademarks.) </li></ul>
  16. 16. What Are the Purposes of Trademarks? <ul><li>Public not confused as to source of goods or services. </li></ul><ul><li>Business distinguishes itself from its competitors. </li></ul><ul><li>Prevent others from taking a “free ride” on your good will. </li></ul>
  17. 17. What Do You Get When You Have a Trademark? <ul><li>Exclusive right to use it with your goods or services </li></ul><ul><li>Valuable business asset (form of property) </li></ul><ul><li>Can be bought, sold, licensed </li></ul>
  18. 18. What Is the Difference Between Federal and State Trademark Law? <ul><li>Trademark protection grew out of the “common law” (court decisions). </li></ul><ul><li>Some states do allow for registration (VA and MD yes; DC no). However, usage creates the property right. </li></ul><ul><li>Federal Registration is principally under the Lanham Act by filing application with USPTO. </li></ul><ul><li>Federal protection available only for marks used in interstate commerce. </li></ul>
  19. 19. What Can Be a Trademark? <ul><li>Words Verizon </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Series of letters CBS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Series of numbers model number </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Logos </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Picture Sunmaid’s girl </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Design Burberry’s plaid </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Symbol Nike’s swooch </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sound NBC chimes </li></ul><ul><li>Name Dell </li></ul><ul><li>Nickname VW’s Beetle </li></ul><ul><li>Color Pink for insulation </li></ul><ul><li>Trade Dress Franchised Restaurant Theme </li></ul>
  20. 20. Strong vs. Weak Marks <ul><li>Strong marks are considered to be inherently distinctive , automatically public knows it is referring to a source. </li></ul><ul><li>Weak marks tend to be descriptive, not clear to public whether it is simply describing the goods or services or indicating source. </li></ul><ul><li>Generic terms cannot be trademarks, they ID the “thing” (aspirin, thermos, escalator). </li></ul>
  21. 21. How to Come Up With a Strong Mark? <ul><li>Made up words: Xerox, Kodak, Amtrak </li></ul><ul><li>Fanciful/Arbitrary: Apple computer, Penguin books </li></ul><ul><li>Suggestive: Joy detergent/perfume, Ivory soap, Hard Rock Café </li></ul><ul><li>Designs: Nike’s swoosh </li></ul>
  22. 22. What Must You Do to Protect Your Mark? <ul><li>Continuously use it in connection with goods or services. </li></ul><ul><li>Police the use of your mark. </li></ul><ul><li>If licensing, monitor its use by others. </li></ul><ul><li>Address infringements. </li></ul><ul><li>Register marks used in interstate commerce with USPTO </li></ul><ul><li>Comply with the USPTO renewal requirements. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Under What Circumstances Could You Be Liable for Infringement? <ul><li>Adopting a confusingly similar mark to that owned by another. </li></ul><ul><li>Incorporating another’s mark into your mark. </li></ul><ul><li>Displaying another’s mark without their permission. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Is There a Relationship Between Copyright and Trademarks? <ul><li>When a business uses a mark, the business can acquire exclusive rights in that mark provided it uses the mark as a trade or service mark. </li></ul><ul><li>However, if the mark has a design feature to it, such as a logo, then whoever created that design may own the copyright in the mark. </li></ul><ul><li>If a business has a third party create its logo, then the business should also address the ownership of the copyright in the design. (By assignment or license) </li></ul>
  25. 25. What Is a Trade Secret? <ul><li>It is any valuable information that you have accumulated, discovered, developed, or generated in connection with the operation of your business that is not generally known; and </li></ul><ul><li>For which you take reasonable steps to preserve the secrecy. </li></ul>
  26. 26. What Are Some Examples of Trade Secrets? <ul><li>Customer and supplier lists </li></ul><ul><li>Business and marketing plans </li></ul><ul><li>Software developed for you </li></ul><ul><li>Internal procedures you have developed </li></ul><ul><li>Techniques and systems </li></ul>
  27. 27. What Must You Do to Protect the Trade Secret? <ul><li>Some measures you can take: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Identify what is the trade secret you want to protect </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stamp documents “confidential” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Have employees and consultants sign confidentiality agreements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lock away sensitive materials </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Protect computers with firewalls & passwords </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Allow access only to those “who need to know” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Faithfully and strictly enforce your procedures </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. What if Someone Misappropriates Your Trade Secret? <ul><li>“ Misappropriate” means someone acquired the trade secret of another improperly; or disclosed or used it without permission. </li></ul><ul><li>You can seek injunctive relief, damages for actual loss and unjust enrichment, or imposition of a reasonable royalty, exemplary damages if there was willful and malicious misappropriation. </li></ul><ul><li>Attorney fees may be possible. </li></ul>
  29. 29. How Do Non-Disclosure Agreements Work? <ul><li>As part of your efforts to protect trade secrets, you want to have all who will come in contact under a legal obligation not to disclose or use the trade secret without your permission. </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore, some non-disclosure obligation should be incorporated in agreements with potential buyer/sellers, contractors, consultants, employees likely to have access. </li></ul><ul><li>Such agreements must be carefully drafted not to be overly broad or else they may not be enforceable. </li></ul>
  30. 30. What Are Some Other Kinds of IP You Should Be Aware of? <ul><li>When using content that can be associated with a person, such as their photograph, signature, voice, be sure you have the authority to incorporate it in the work. </li></ul><ul><li>Most people have an enforceable “right of privacy.” The right to be left alone. </li></ul><ul><li>Be especially careful about the use of images or likenesses of children. </li></ul><ul><li>Celebrities have a “right of publicity.” The right to exploit their own fame. </li></ul>
  31. 31. What Are Some Terms to Include in Your Contract with Your Customer? <ul><li>Identify all parties to the contract and be sure the persons signing have the authority to do so. </li></ul><ul><li>Include definitions for important terms used in the contract. (Aim for consistency.) </li></ul><ul><li>To make enforceable, reference as part of the contract the attached Schedules that cover specifications of work, mile stones, delivery dates, deliverables, payment. </li></ul><ul><li>Anticipate how parties will handle delays in performance. </li></ul><ul><li>Identify procedures for delivery, changes to and acceptance of work product. </li></ul>
  32. 32. Contract Terms--Continued (2) <ul><li>Specify who owns what IP in final work product. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Your original content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Customer’s content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Third party content </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Will you indemnify your customer against 3 rd party IP infringement claims? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the procedures for terminating the contract if either party has defaulted and not cured or for any other reason. </li></ul>
  33. 33. Contract Terms--Continued (3) <ul><li>What are the representations and warranties you will make? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Authority, no conflicts, originality, performance of product, compatibility, no liens, no infringement </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What are the representations and warranties your customer will make? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Authority, no conflicts, ownership of content provided, no liens, no infringement </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Confidentiality obligations </li></ul><ul><li>Identify each party’s principal contact for all forms of communication. </li></ul>
  34. 34. What Are Some Other Kinds of Contractual Relationships? <ul><li>Do you have rights or licenses for 3 rd party material ? </li></ul><ul><li>Are your contractors also obligated vis-à-vis any confidentiality obligations with your customers? </li></ul><ul><li>Have you protected your own trade secrets with your employees and contractors? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the client’s website need to include agreements concerning privacy, protection of personal data, use by minors, internet usage policies? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you need to have ongoing maintenance, hosting, and servicing agreement with the customer? </li></ul>
  35. 35. Barbara I. Berschler Press, Potter & Dozier, LLC 7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 1350 301-913-5200 [email_address]