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Reply by Mark Smith

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Posted on copyrighted plans

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Mark Smith

509 posts in 1879 days


#1 posted 08-05-2013 04:02 PM

I’m not a lawyer, but many years ago I worked for a company who policed the market for copyright and trademark infringement violations. Here’s some things I learned on the enforcement end. If a company doesn’t enforce their own trademarks and copyrights it’s possible for them to lose them. For example lets say Harley-Davidson decided not to enforce their trademark and just let everybody in the world use it on whatever they want. They would eventually lose the right to enforce that trademark at all and the Harley logo would become part of the public domain. So because of that, Harley-Davidson actively enforces their trademarks as does most any large company with a valuable trademark.

Back when I worked enforcement on this we had contracts with specific companies for specific brands. I can’t remember them all but we did Ninja Turtles, The Simpsons, MLB, Betty Boop, and a few others. What we would do is go out and look mostly for stores selling counterfeit products. Then we would buy one of those products and get all the info on the store selling them. (This was back before the Internet) And one myth I can dispel (unless the law has changed in 20 years) is that if you change something small it makes it all better. That is not true, the courts have said it can still be a rip off. For example, Samurai Turtles that are green and wear masks were still a violation of Ninja Turtles copyrights.

Okay so back to enforcement, once we found a store selling these items we bought an item and then turned it over the law firm we worked for. The law firm would then draft a very nice letter to the store in question with a demand that they quit selling the items and also with a demand that they pay $2500 to the law firm in order to settle the case in lieu of a civil lawsuit being filed. There was much more to the letter than this, but you get the point. These stores would take these letters to their own lawyers who would advise them to pay the $2500 and quit breaking the law. Their lawyers knew the $2500 was very cheap as compared to what they faced in a civil suit. My understanding is there are many law firms and investigators out there still operating in this manner but I bet the $2500 has increased quite a bit since then.


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