So, you have a bright idea and you make some craft or miniature items and sell them.
Then you see someone else selling items that look like yours that to all intents and purposes are copies of yours. How many times has that happened to you and is there anything that you can do about it?
When this happens, it leaves us angry and frustrated as developing ideas and producing new items is hard work.
If you develop something that is all your own idea then the copyright belongs to you, in the same way that you own any other property. You can allow someone to use it, give it away, sell it or leave it, as any other possessions, in a will,
The Law in the UK has not long changed and is now clear on this point. It is as true for the ‘big boys’ with large R & D budgets as small crafters and miniaturists.
The difficult part is proving that it is yours. If I own a car it is easy to prove that it is mine but ideas can be nebulous making proof of ownership more problematic.
So protecting and proving ownership of ideas and items needs to become part of the crafters and miniaturists normal activity.
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to prove copyright is as follows
• Write down what you have done with a picture if possible. (can be paper or CD based)
• Seal it in an envelope and mark the outside with a code or title of what it contains.
• Address it to yourself and post signed for.
• When it arrives DO NOT OPEN IT.
• Put it somewhere safe.
• It may be useful to attach a copy of what is in the envelope to the outside as a reminder of the contents
What you have then is a record of the idea/item, showing traceable passage from yourself to yourself, dated and untouched. This is enough evidence to prove ownership of something if you are ever called upon to do so.
There are also companies that will store the records for you at a price or you could lodge a copy at your solicitors, again at a price.
If you have not been copyrighting automatically you probably have a ‘backlog’ and to merely send yourself a letter will only prove that it was your idea from the postage date.
So in addition the contents of the envelope need to show additional proof that the idea was yours for some time prior to the letter. Have you any copies of listings, web dates, old receipts or photos or testimonials from buyers that show that you actually have owned this for some time? This will be additional evidence of proof of ownership.
So you have a bright idea of a Trading Name and the next thing you know someone else is using it.
We are surrounded by products and services – most of which carry recognisable names that are Trade Marked.
To register a Trade Mark is expensive but what you can do is copyright your trading name and logo in the same way as your work. You need to make sure that fonts and colours are included in your records.
This may well sound scary or just plain ‘paperwork’ but it could be invaluable and after a time it will become automatic.
It will save your blood pressure when you see other people passing off your work as their own and may even prove to be a nice little earner!
First steps in protecting your creations
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20 August 2007
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