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copyright vs trademark

not a soliciation for legal advice

     
7:02 pm on Feb 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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so my wife has recently had a hit meme get over 1 million impressions. and it is still going.

of course, there was no copyright or trademark insignia on the meme - but that isn't the issue - that one's out of the barn.

she's on to the next one - does anyone have any general suggestions or stories about what to do or not do?

i'm a little proactive on this as if this thing shows up on a TV ad someday, i want to have practices some basic cya protection in place.

and feel free to suggest where i might better post to better fit WebmasterWorld TOS etc.

thanks!

-c
7:25 pm on Mar 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I am not a lawyer, but I have studied some UK company and commercial law many years ago.

Firstly, in neither the UK, nor the US, nor AFAIK in any major jurisdiction is the copyright notice required for you to hold the copyright on a work. [copyrightservice.co.uk ] [copyright.gov ]

So if the "meme" is a work that can be covered by copyright e.g. a viral video) your wife holds the copyright. A notice just strengthens your position - the same is true of registration in the US.

The question is ,what is it? I assume by "meme" you mean "internet meme" can be an idea (no copyright, however clever it is), an image, a video (both covered by copyright) or any of a number of other things.

Trademarks are trickier, require expensive registration, and can be lost through non-use or by becoming generic terms.
7:52 pm on Mar 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Most countries recognize copyright as being valid upon creation. with no notification required (though can be helpful in monetary sanctions against infringers, and also can be enforced by "in use [business] by" date). Trademark is something different... and can last far beyond copyright if maintained and actively protected (usually business-related). And Trademarks do require fees for registration, etc. Copyright does not.

The usual I am not a lawyer disclaimer is offered. Consult an attorney in your jurisdiction for best advice.
8:45 pm on Mar 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

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@graeme_p

This particular "meme" is an 8 word phrase (originally used in my wife's book which will be on bookstore shelves this May 1).

This phrase is nicely laid out with fonts and simple graphics so it has quite a nice impact.

The last meme she did went along with a photo and article - complete with branding -- with clear and explicit instructions that anyone sharing it was to link back to her site and to definitely not remove the branding.

Of course, numerous organizations followed along nicely, but several rather significant ones removed both the branding and the link and basically attributed the story to their own "reporters."

Of course, there is no immediate monetary loss or gain, so there would be no cause for any kind of legal action, and if there was, how does one account for damages?

What can ya say?

We're doing the best we can.
9:14 am on Mar 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I think you will struggle with the wording of the phrase it self:

[volokh.com ]

(US case in case you are in another country)

This phrase is nicely laid out with fonts and simple graphics so it has quite a nice impact.


That is probably copyright. Certainly worth asking a lawyer.

Of course, there is no immediate monetary loss or gain, so there would be no cause for any kind of legal action, and if there was, how does one account for damages?


You need to ask a lawyer. Links are worth money so not linking may be a loss. It may not be too late to register a US copyright which means AFAIK you do not have to show an actual loss.

I think you probably have a case in law. Whether it is worth the cost of pursuing it is another matter.

It is also often worth contacting the infringing businesses yourself and asking for reasonable compensation. I got a few hundred euros (I cannot remember exactly how much) and a promise of a citation in future copies from an academic book publisher because a book they published plagiarised two pages from my site.
9:56 pm on Mar 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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We actually have a UK trademark which is a phrase 'laid out with fonts and simple graphics'. It's much easier to defend as it's unique.
10:25 am on Mar 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Yes, but in this case no trademark has been registered. Also trademark and copyright cover different uses.
 

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