With Comic-Con International 2016 right around the corner (July 20-24 including preview night) in San Diego, I am sharing a question that comes up quite often in my practice in Business and Intellectual Property Law. The question, often involving famous comic characters and celebrities, goes something like this –
Q: I created an art piece for my grandson that contains a famous cartoon character on it. Can I sell these to others since I made them? I am interested in selling them online in marketplaces like eBay and Etsy for profit.
The question also involves artwork and crafts including celebrities, sports athletes, and other famous characters. Without knowing it, the asking party just asked a very complicated question as this simple inquiry triggers various area of the law including:
- copyright law
- business law
- first amendment rights (under certain circumstances)
- privacy laws (under certain circumstances)
- publicity rights (under certain circumstances)
- cyberspace laws
- and more
This simple question requires plenty of legal analysis to fully provide an answer and a recommendation. However, for the sake of brevity, it is generally unlawful to use the image of a famous cartoon character to generate your own products for commercial sale. But let’s consider things further.
Let’s assume that the drawing is such a success with your grandson that you decide you’re going to use it for use with your online store in a well-known marketplace and will also use it for marketing purposes for your business. Upon using the image for commercial purposes, you’re exposing yourself to liability for unlawfully using a person’s liking or a person’s copyrighted work without permission. If you make 1 single sale in a private setting, you open yourself for exposure. However, from a practical perspective, it’s very unlikely that the Marvel brand or large company will pursue a claim. On the other hand, if you wind up being the next big thing on the market thanks to the you should expect a lawsuit for damages. Other things to consider are how you’re using the work, whether you transformed the image in any way, and many other factors.
If you have a similar question like the one above you should speak with an intellectual property attorney before proceeding to fully analyze your question and determine whether to move forward with your plans. Factors analyzed include:
- what image are you using?
- is the work protected y copyright registration?
- did you ask for permission from the creator?
- if the work involves a person, does the person know about your use?
- where did you get your image from?
- did you copy the image or transform it in any way?
- what are you using it for?
- are you engaging in private sales or commercial sales?
- other questions depending upon your circumstances
Note that this type of question is complex and requires serious factual analysis.
The San Diego Public Library is offering a “Business Law Day” on Tuesday, November 10, 2015 from 2:30pm-6:30pm. At this special event, attorneys will be present to offer advice to prospective and current business owners in the areas of business law such as patents and intellectual property.
Speak one-on-one with an attorney in a 15-20 minute free consultation session. Attorney Ruth Ryan-Cruz has volunteered her time for this event and plans to offer advice at this event.
If you’re thinking about opening up a business in San Diego County or perhaps you are in the process of doing so, we welcome you to attend this free event. This invitation is also extended to current business owners regardless of which stage your business is in. This event is open to the general public.
Share this information with your friends and family. They may need a free 15-20 minute consultation about their business plans.
San Diego, California (PRWEB) July 23, 2015
San Diego native and attorney Ruth Ryan-Cruz, Esq. established and launched Ryan-Cruz Law, APC with its principal office in Mission Valley, California (3111 Camino Del Rio North, Suite 400). Ruth Ryan-Cruz attended San Diego State University and CSU San Marcos for undergraduate education. She attended California Western School of Law for graduate education and now serves on the CWSL Alumni Board of Directors executive board.
Ryan-Cruz Law, APC’s mission: To provide quality legal services and make a measurable difference in the lives of the community members served. The firm was founded in June, 2015 by Ruth Ryan-Cruz, Esq., formerly an associate attorney at a boutique law firm in downtown San Diego with deep experience in various transactional and litigation matters. With experience in legal transactions, negotiations and successful dispute resolution, Ryan-Cruz Law aims to vigorously represent, prosecute on behalf of, and defend its clients. A favorite firm quote reads, “All people are equal before the law. A good attorney is what makes a difference.” With this in mind, the firm aims to practice this concept by providing legal services as a true attorney and counselor at law. In representing a client’s interests, Ryan-Cruz Law, APC intends to keep the client’s priorities and needs at the forefront. With ongoing communication, well-researched points, creative legal strategies, custom-tailored solutions and touches of human element, representation at Ryan-Cruz Law, APC focuses first and foremost on clients as people.
Client review excerpt: “Excellent, friendly, and helpful!! Ruth was fantastic to work with, very knowledgeable about my inquiries, and was on the ball with keeping me in the loop. Couldn’t have asked for more, she’s really the best!!” By Barrie K. (Business and Intellectual Property).
“This multi-service law firm is committed to meeting the needs of its clients by providing a tailored approach for each individual. With basic principles such as empathy, attention and respect, the firm carries on practical, efficient and solutions-oriented representation tailored to the client,” remarks Ruth Ryan-Cruz, Esq., founder of Ryan-Cruz Law, APC.
Ryan-Cruz Law also acts as outside general counsel to several businesses and corporations in the San Diego community with local, national and international business dealings. Ryan-Cruz Law is sought out by clients because of its legal acumen and strong business sense. As a result, they have become trusted members of their clients’ business teams and families.
Attorney Ruth Ryan-Cruz has been nominated and honored by various organizations including an “Excellent” rating from Avvo, San Diego Magazine and KBNT Univision San Diego’s “Latino’s Making a Difference” and San Diego Daily Transcript’s “Young Attorneys.” Her articles have been published in publications including WealthCounsel, the San Diego County Bar Association’s San Diego Lawyer magazine, and San Diego Attorney Journal.
Ryan-Cruz Law, APC is a law firm in San Diego, California. Ryan-Cruz Law practices in the areas of business law, real estate, estate planning and intellectual property. For more information visit Ryan-Cruz Law’s website at http://www.ryancruzlaw.com. To learn more about attorney Ruth Ryan-Cruz, visit her profile at http://www.ryancruzlaw.com/attorney-ruth-ryan-cruz/
Request a free consultation:
Ruth Ryan-Cruz, Esq.
RYAN-CRUZ LAW, APC
3111 Camino Del Rio North, Suite 400
San Diego, CA 92108
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- Protecting Your Product Name – When To Do This & How It WorksJuly 14, 2016 - 11:03 pm
- Selling Arts & Crafts Depicting Famous Faces & Characters. Can You Do It?July 14, 2016 - 6:17 pm
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