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5 Steps to Practice Safe Crowdfunding

August 5, 2014

Money doesn’t grow on trees. Hard work is the key to success. You would be hard pressed to find someone who hadn’t heard these lines growing up. But some of these erstwhile truisms need altering ever since online crowdfunding has taken the world by storm. For a case in point, look at the man who managed to raise more than $50,000 on Indiegogo to make potato salad. Potato salad! He raised $49,990 more than his $10 goal.

This example is to illustrate that people on the Internet have money to spend. But unlike a simplistic campaign that goes viral, designing a legitimate campaign is hard work. If you are looking to raise capital to launch a product, then crowdfunding might be right for you; and with a little patience, and by following the steps below, it will have definitely been worth the effort. You’ll be practicing safe crowdfunding in no time!

Step 1: Identify your intellectual property

First things first: identify your intellectual property (IP). IP is not limited to the tech industry; any and every company has IP, including yours. Launching an idea into the world exposes you to more than just some wise guys leaving disparaging comments. It enables anyone to access your campaign, and with enough capital, that person can recreate your product if you haven’t taken the necessary steps to protect it. If they successfully bring it to market before you, then you can kiss your baby goodbye.  (more…)

IP And the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year?!

May 30, 2014

College football bowl week is often referred to as the “most wonderful time of the year!” I couldn’t agree more with this statement. I love college football, which includes memories of crisp autumn days, unwavering traditions and college bands. Who would think in the middle of all of this is an Intellectual Property story?

Let me introduce you to John Antonio and Helen Weaver of Henderson Advertising. In 1970, they were hired to create a new logo for the Clemson Tigers. After reviewing several logos from various teams with a tiger mascot, he noticed that all were some form of the tiger. John decided to do something different. He requested the mold of a Bengal Tiger from the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. The mold was sent to Henderson who then created a picture, tilting the image to the right. So what’s the big deal? We see pitchforks and other assortments of logos on helmets. In 1970, it was unusual to have any logo on a college helmet. However, when Antonio showed the Clemson helmet sporting the paw print, the Bengal Tiger Paw Print became the new logo. (more…)

Trademark Disputes: Now Playing At Your Local Redbox

May 23, 2014

If you’ve ever rented a movie from Redbox, you have likely seen some choices that bear a suspicious resemblance to films currently playing in theaters. For example, last holiday season, many Redbox kiosks offered a movie called “Age of the Hobbits” at the same time Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” was in theaters.

These movies are called “mockbusters.” They’re usually shot very quickly on a shoestring budget and titled in a way that calls to mind other movies, for example “Abraham Lincoln vs. Vampires” and “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” The studios behind them allege they’re legitimate and original works of cinema, but critics complain they’re meant to trick customers into thinking they’re renting a mainstream movie.

Until recently, major movie studios did not take much legal action against mockbusters because it simply wasn’t worth the time and expense. That all might be changing, though.

Recently, Disney filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against a movie studio called Phase 4 films. Phase 4 had released a movie called “Frozen Land” and Disney felt like its title and marketing were too close to the title and marketing for its holiday hit “Frozen.” Disney alleged that Phase 4’s film was originally called “The Legend of Sarila,” and that months before it was released (at the same time as “Frozen,”) Phase 4 re-titled it and re-did the marketing to mimic that of “Frozen.”  (more…)

Intellectual Property Issues with 3D Printing

May 16, 2014

Intellectual Property and 3D printing don’t get talked about often, mainly because 3D printing is still growing into a mainstream activity. But with 3D printing starting to become more accessible to businesses and homes, what kind of Intellectual Property issues might develop that your business will need to protect or analyze?

Protecting Original 3D Creations

Any blueprint of a 3D design can be protected through copyright. And if your business is a creative one where people are creating original 3D files, this is going to be a necessary step as an interesting direction in creating new media works. However, many existing blueprints already exist for specific 3D objects. If your business happens to print one of those designs that you didn’t create yourself, you could face copyright infringement if you plan to profit off the objects.

Just as you would with any other creative work of art, you have to check if it’s available in the public domain before you can make money off of it. When using an existing blueprint for a 3D object, check online to see if it’s copyrighted and who the creator was. You can contact them for permission once you confirm their existence.  (more…)

3 Common Copyright Mistakes Creatives & Freelancers Make

May 9, 2014

We all make mistakes.

So let me refer you to number seven of the Dali Lama of Tibet’s “Eighteen Rules of Living,” where he gives us the following advice, “When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it. And do not let your pride get in the way of taking those steps.”

The main idea is that trying to hide a mistake, once you have become aware of it, by pretending it didn’t happen only perpetuates the goof up and inevitably leads to sinking deeper and deep into the quicksand of oops. There has to be a more than a million zillion possible copyright related snags and unintentional misunderstandings that lurk within the professional shadows just waiting to trip up even the most seasoned of freelancers.

This article seeks to aid freelancers in avoiding a nasty stumble by illuminating the wiles of three of the more common snares that imperil the footsteps of the unwary.

Mistake No. 1: Making Incorrect Assumptions as to Who Owns a Copyright

There are all sorts of scenarios that will work to blur the lines of copyright ownership. The relative or neighbor that asks a student for a logo design for a business, the group of college classmates that all work on a project which later turns out to be a financial goldmine or the employer that misclassifies a job as an independent contractor situation in order to avoid paying high employee payroll taxes all present situations where copyright ownership rights may become muddled. (more…)