Monday, December 13, 2010

Copyrights and Trademarks and Lawyers, Oh My!

So I am working on branding myself, my words, my website etc. In the world of marketing and advertising, branding yourself is the best way to gain some success. It creates that first and lasting impression, makes your product memorable and helps you stick out in a field of similar products. For me, my brand is my quotes, my affirmations. What I am putting in the book. It's what I want to be able to help drive my message of positivity that will get me in the door and on the stage to give motivational speeches. You get what I am saying right? So the first step is to actually have something you can trademark, something that makes you recognizable. for me that is the phrase, This is me damn it! So I start to do some research on my phrase and see if trademarking is a viable option.

Keep in mind I have my words copyrighted. but as we will find out, that just isn't enough. 

So in my research I come across a cool website called It started as a way to make actual books out of your pictures and has grown into a self publishing website. If you want one book or 1000 it has the goods to make it happen. I have looked into this website before, when I decided that the tone of my book was going to be heavily artistic with drawings and pictures to accompany  my words. What I missed on my first pass thru it tho, was a book I had now found called, This Is Me Damn It!

Yes - let me let that sink in for you.... My book title - already produced. FUCK!!!

Ok I think - lot's of people have ideas for titles and books can be called the same thing. Anyway, i have a secondary title that goes with my book, something along the lines of "Surviving & thriving no matter what life throws at you" (something like that...I am still ironing that part out). I can still possibly trademark it. And then I look inside the book...

This book isn't just titled This is me damn it, It IS This Is Me Damn IT! it's my quote, my words in someone else's book.  Double FUCK! If you can, click on the links above and preview the book. If you can't, well basically a 21 yr old girl in England took my words and combined them with individual pictures to create a book. The idea itself is great, but ... and this is a BIG 'OL BUT... THIS IS MY STUFF DAMN IT!  I am at least thankful that she credited me in the last 2 pages of the book, but come on! 

So I send her a few comments and an email trying to get her to discuss this issues with me and i get no response. So now, it's time for the lawyers. I contact a copyright & intellectual property lawyer explain my situation, agree to pay his fee and then receive his answer about 4 hours later. My question was" I had my quote copyrighted and now this person has used it for their own monetary gain. What is my recourse?"

His answer was...
Copyright normally does not cover short phrases or titles, unfortunately. So if all you have is copyright, you might not have a good legal response. Your best bet would have been to use state or federal trademark law -- assuming you either registered (which you didn't) or used the phrase to identify your products in the marketplace (which it doesn't sound like you did either.) It's discouraging, I know, but clever titles and short quotes are just hard to protect in isolation. The law leaves them out in the cold. Sorry. Good luck.

In his defense, I was told if I wasn't satisfied with his answer that i didn't have to pay his fee. But come on, this is me we are talking about here. Of course I paid his fee. Just because it wasn't the answer I wanted doesn't mean he didn't work for me to get it. Now the fee was only $30.00. Which is reasonable. And I got my answer in about 4 hours. but it was $30 I didn't have to spare.

To me it's just so bizarre that I have to pay a lawyer to find out that my own stuff, my intellectual property, my heart and soul and work, is not just my own. It could be used anywhere that anyone wanted to use it.

Very discouraging to say the least. So needless to say, I am now on the path of researching how I can trademark all of my writing. I have found out, that it would be easier & less expensive, if i just wrote a book and owned the copyright (and therefore the rights) to all of the content. Hmmm write a book? Now there's an idea. Sometimes, when you least expect it, the universe actual comes full circle.