Wild Thing. Shoes. Ivanka Trump. Aquazzura Italia.

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Legal Battle.

Ivanka trumpControversy seems to follow the Trump name, whether it’s in Washington D.C. or the halls of the fashion industry in New York City.

This time it’s Ivanka Trump who is in the middle of a legal battle over the design of a shoe. Ivanka Trump’s clothing brand has been sued by an Italian footwear company, Aquazzura Italia, alleging that their shoe design was copied and sold under a different name. The suit was filed in June of 2016.

The lawsuit accused Ivanka Trump and her licensing partner, Marc Fisher, of plagiarizing a shoe design marketed under the name of “Wild Thing.” Aquazzura Italia claimed that the shoe in question, called the Hettie sandal, was identically copied, which included distinct details such as the shape, silhouette, fringe covering the toes, and tassel on the heel.

Since the filing of the suit, the lawyers for Ivanka Trump have been fighting to keep Ivanka from being deposed and filed a motion to prevent her testimony on grounds that Ivanka did not possess any “unique information” relating to the design of the shoe. Furthermore, they claimed “special circumstances,” arguing that her testimony would “distract” from her duties in the White house.

Sandals.

After almost a year of legal wrangling, on June 23rd judge Katherine Forrest of the Southern District of New York ruled that Ivanka Trump must submit to a deposition. The ruling stipulates that the testimony must be limited to only two hours and held in Ivanka’s new residence, Washington, D.C. The judge also decreed that the testimony must take place before October 31st, 2017.

Judge Forrest acknowledged that Ivanka Trump divested herself from her fashion company in January, but was still the CEO at the time the lawsuit was filed.

The shoe in question is no longer listed on the Ivanka Trump website and the company and its attorneys have refused to comment on the recent ruling.

This isn’t the first lawsuit filed against Ivanka Trump’s fashion company. This past March her clothing brand was hit with a class-action filed on behalf of women’s clothing retailers throughout the state of California. The suit contends that her company unfairly benefits from her relationship to President Donald Trump. It points out that Trump advisor, Kellyanne Conway, promoted Ivanka’s brand on an appearance on Fox News.

The lawsuit seeks monetary damages, as well as a restraining order barring the sales of Ivanka’s clothing line in the state of California.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Feel free to join my conversation on my Facebook Fan Page, on my Twitter page, in one of my LinkedIn Groups.

Difference Between a Trademark & Copyright

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Copyright

Copyright

Many online business owners confuse trademark registration with copyright registration. Trademark registration refers to protecting the brand name, color, design, and/or logo of your business, and provides a means to distinguish your product from others in the marketplace. Copyright registration refers to protecting original creative content, such books, articles, blog posts, photos, website content, videos, music, plays, movies, cartoons, and a number of other items. While both are forms of intellectual property, they are handled differently. Understand the difference.

If you need someone to perform a trademark search or if you need help with filing a trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, CLICK HERE NOW.

Do you know if you are infringing on a copyright?

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Here are Three Tips to avoid breaking the law with Copyright Infringement:

Copyright infringement

Copyright Infringement

Legal Copyright Infringement is honestly an oxymoron- if it qualifies as Copyright Infringement, then it is, by definition, illegal. This being said sometimes it’s hard to know where the gray area of legal vs. illegal starts.

What is a Copyright?

A Copyright is an exclusive right granted to an artist or author, pursuant to Article 1, §8, Clause 8 of the US Constitution, which protects any original work of art or authorship reduced to a tangible form.

What is Copyright Infringement?

Copyright infringement is a violation of that right; it is THEFT; it’s stealing.  Copyright infringement is using someone else’s copyright protected material without permission, without a license, or without that use falling within an exception, such as fair use or the public domain.

A lot of times, people don’t even realize that what they are doing is illegal, thinking what they are doing is harmless, with no thoughts to the potential consequences. For this reason, I have put together a list of 3 tips for judging whether what you are doing is copyright infringement or not…

Legal Copyright Infringement Tip #1: If it does not belong to you, assume it belongs to someone else.

Legal Copyright Infringement Tip #2
 If it belongs to someone else, assume you need permission or a license to use it.

Legal Copyright Infringement Tip #3 Be aware of ways you can inadvertently infringe someone’s copyright,

    1. Downloading music from the Internet,
    2. Photocopying portions of a book or articles from magazines,
    3. Duplicating testimonial  letters & inserting them in your media kit on web site,
    4. Inserting popular music into your video,
    5. Performing someone’s music in public,
    6. Reproducing a photograph,
    7. Allowing someone to download your copy of software without buying their own license

Until next time, THINK before you USE!

IP Copyright. The Copyright Act.

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screen-shot-2017-01-08-at-6-59-07-pmThe Copyright Act provides the copyright owner with many safeguards to ensure that our content is protected.  Our job is to discover that copyright information, and use it to our advantage.  A thorough knowledge of the legal safeguards is important, which can come from law seminars, reading current legal information, and/or hiring a competent copyright attorney, who focuses on copyright law and copyright protection issues.

It is also important, as creative entrepreneurs and small business owners to avoid those actions that can get YOU into trouble.  It’s easy to inadvertently infringe someone else’s rights.  A person is said to be an infringer if he or she is found to have violated any of the exclusive rights of the copyright owner such as,

  1. Right to reproduce or duplicate their work
  2. Right to display or post their work publicly
  3. Right to distribute copies of their work
  4. Right to perform their work publicly
  5. Right to sell, license, rent rights to others
  6. Right to create a derivative work (create a new work from an existing work, repurpose)

Some specific copyright  infringement examples:

  1.  Photocopying material (i.e., articles, testimonial letters, cartoons, website content, blogs), without permission, a license, or it falling within a legal exception (fair use, public domain)
  2. Downloading music from the Internet without permission, a license, or it falling within a legal exception (fair use, public domain)
  3. Copying other content from the Internet without permission, a license, or it falling within a legal exception (fair use, public domain)
  4. Synchronizing music to (adding copyright protected music) your user generated videos, without permission, a license, or it falling within a legal exception (fair use, public domain)
  5. Going beyond the scope of a license agreement (e.g., the license says you can use a video for a specific purpose, but you use it for something else; you have a license to make 10 copies of a book, article, etc., but you make 100 copies)
  6. Reproducing / uploading / Posting videos to your site, without permission, a license, or it falling within a legal exception (fair use, public domain)

Who can sue for copyright infringement? The general rule is that the copyright owner can sue.  But, as always, within the law, there are many exceptions and nuances.  For example, a person who was not the creator of the work, but who is considered the “beneficial owner” can also sue.  A beneficial owner is the person who has an interest in the property—even though they didn’t create it—such as an assignee, a trustee, or a legatee (an heir).

Copyright. Asset Protection.

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copyright puzzleWhether you write books, articles, web content, blogs, movies, shorts, screenplays, choreographic works, take pictures, or shoot videos—you should always be thinking how best to protect your copyrights, your business brand, and any creative content that you upload to the Internet.  Your creative content, your trademarks, your business collectively are your assets, and your kids’ future.  PROTECT them!

ASSET PROTECTION should be your #1 concern. If you don’t take care of your assets, whether through copyright registrationtrademark registrationpatent registration, contracts, or LLCs, trusts, offshore trusts, and other asset protection strategies, you will be sorry later. It’s your job to protect your assets—not someone else’s.

Let’s look at a few more strategies that will help you protect your work, make it harder for someone to steal from you, and if they do—to make it easier for you to sue them.

  1. ALWAYS, place the copyright notice symbol—in the proper format—on all your work (e.g., Copyright 2017 Marion Doe). It sends the message that you claim ownership of your work, PLUS in the event you ever need to sue someone for copyright infringement, your case is stronger.
  1. Register your work with the US copyright office.  A common myth floating around the creative community is that you can protect your copyrighted work by use of the so-called “poor man’s copyright”.  This is a dangerous piece of information in the hands of a content creator. It erroneously suggests that the security you seek through copyright protection, will be had by you mailing a copy of your work to yourself. WRONG!Here’s why: Even though you have a copyright the moment you reduce your original idea to a tangible form, without the benefit of registration it means nothing. One benefit of copyright registration is that you can sue someone for copyright infringement. Without a registration, you cannot sue.Copyright registration is not hard to do, and you can submit an online copyright registration. It’s one of the cheapest and most effective ways to ensure that you get the copyright protection your desire.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.