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Old 12-30-2005, 09:15 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Can a "look" be copyrighted?

I'm in Massachusetts producing creative ads for web marketing. One of my images was called Ipod-esque, though I have been using I've been using the shadow-on-bright-colored-background style for several years.

I would like to know if the images I am creating are safe from copyright infringement. And, if it is ok to proceed creating images with a now mainstream look that appears more branded every day. My theme is an old one (for me and probably many others). However, its widespread look is now instantly recognized in print, tv, web, etc.

Here's the ad if you are curious to see how similar the look is:

http://www.uterus1.com/images/u1160x600.cfm

It is a good look and works fantastically for animated gif compression. So, it had been the perfect formula -- except that now the look has been adopted by a major brand.

As you can see, the particular image on which I received the Ipod comment is developed for an unrelated and ultimately non-competitive industry -- women's health. And, it has text overlays.

Am I in danger of infringement on Apple/Ipod's brand? Can anyone point me in the direction of some good literature, web or otherwise on this? On visiting apple's site, their terms of use says to me that they essentially have all of everything they have ever done or will do copyrighted (But doesn't list its "brands" specifically.) I can't afford to tangle with them if it may be problematic. So, I'm wondering now if anyone foresees a problem.

Again, thanks for your consideration and time!

X-posted to Computers, Software, Internet Law in Intellectual Property since I'm not sure of its most appropriate placement.
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Old 12-30-2005, 09:56 AM   #2 (permalink)
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i was told yes

FYI - I have received one message from a senior member in another forum that has said yes. Not sure if senior is relative to the number of posts/contributions ro knowledge in the subject. But, it confirmed my thinking.

I am going to start copyrighting road signs as my next lucrative career.

One other thought I had one.. how do you determine what is copyrightable? Pop art existed way before Ipod and I would say what I create is more pop-ish, but that is a style/genre, isn't it?

Maybe I'll still look for answers... aware that it may ultimately be bad news.

Thanks again for looking.
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Old 12-31-2005, 11:45 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Post It's my Picture

Absolutely, Specific Intellectual and Artistic design creations are Copyrightable/Trademarked/Service Marked or Patentable and the the sooner you seek professional counsel the better.
If I remember correctly, any "object"(for lack of a better word) runs the risk of becoming readily recognizable and may become "Generic" and therefore be open to being reproduced without the benefit of Patent protection.
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Old 12-31-2005, 03:53 PM   #4 (permalink)
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This all depends, of course, about whether Apple has filed for copyright protection of the design with the USPTO --- this will require a little searching to see if they have anything filed (www.uspto.gov is a good place to start).

On the other side of the intellectual property pendulum, I strongly doubt that Apple would go as far as to file for a patent on any artistic design for two reasons. First, the form has little intrinsic value except when used directly to imply the Apple trademark (e.g., the appearance of the iMac is distinctly Apple-related; despite this, there was a case some years back in which a competing manufacturer used a similar box design but without use of any registered Apple marks --- I recall the case was ruled in the competitor's favor). Second, even if Apple *DID* go as far as to file a patent for the design, it's strong unlikely that it was approved given the array of artists who have employed a similar style previously. Even if a patent were granted, a prior arts search could easily help invalidate the patent in court (which, if Apple's counsel has the forsight I trust they have, would prevent the company from filing a patent on the design altogether).

Hope this helps!

Brad
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Old 03-23-2006, 06:14 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Brad and mileaway --

Thank you for your help with my issue. I've been working with the issue on and off for a few months and decided to finally let up the search. Thanks for the patent website link.

I thought, like Brad, that the prior art that exists would hopefully prevent Apple from filing a copyright on the style. It just made (and still makes (kinda)) me nervous that just about anything can be protected.. especially by those with the $ to do it.

Thanks again for your help.

Best,
Col
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Old 07-15-2009, 11:52 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Copyrights

Here is a good article on copyrights: Copyright Lawyers
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Old 02-03-2012, 04:40 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Independent creation is a defense to copyright infringement. You can only be sued for copyright infringement if you actually copied the work. If you created the same work independently, then you should be fine. If you have any evidence that you created these images before Apple launched their ad campaign, it would be helpful.

In my personal opinion, I don't see much danger because the style you're using is a silhouette. Artists have probably been creating silhouette images for centuries. In fact, a google image search for "silhouette" returns thousands of silhouette images, including many on bright colored backgrounds. It would be hard for Apple to claim copyright infringement just because you're using a silhouetted image. It would probably have to be an exact duplicate for them to get anywhere.
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Old 12-16-2015, 01:32 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Patent & Copyright Laws in India

De Penning & De Penning as a patent agent India will help you fill out the necessary forms, contacting the patent office, send in your application and follow up on any issues that might arise while your patent is being processed.
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