Artist Inc. Class 5 – Legal Issues For Artists

During the morning of Class 5, Paul Cha, a registered patent attorney and intellectual property litigator in the Denver office of the law firm Holme Roberts and Owen LLP, took us on a journey into the world of legal issues an artist might encounter. Here’s a brief summary of the content he covered in class:

Copyright
– Protects the form in which creative idea is expressed (not the idea); Exists at the moment work is created; The individual that created the work is the copyright owner.
– Can register a copyright to provide further protection with right to sue and to collect damages.
– Life of a copyright is life of author plus 70 years.
– Works created prior to 1923 are considered public domain.
– Fair Use of a copyrighted work includes reproduction for uses of criticism, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research.
– Penalties for copyright infringement include destruction of infringing materials and monetary damages.

Trademark
– Any word, mark or symbol used to identify and distinguish the goods of one person from another and to indicate the source of the goods.
– Trademark rights can last indefinitely.
– Mark should be distinctive. Fanciful (i.e. Exxon), Arbitrary (i.e. Apple), or Suggestive (i.e. Microsoft)
– Register through Secretary of State or US Patent & Trademark Office – you can do a search in the database for trademark logos. Words are harder to trademark than logos.

Useful Links:
US Copyright Office
Copyright Clearance Center
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Stanford University – Definition of Public Domain
Cornell University – Copyright Term and Public Domain
Westminster Law Library @ Sturm College of Law, University of Denver Public has limited access to resources.
Colorado Supreme Court Library Open to the public.

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