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Protecting trade name and design ideas

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I'm really starting to get to a point with my pottery that its possible my dream of being a full time potter may be a realization. That being said I've never owned a business so I'm wondering if or how to go about protecting my pottery brand and new ideas and designs I create. Any pointers y'all can give me on this would be greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance and hope everyone is having a great day so far!

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Good luck with that. Seems every time I spend weeks, months, working out the process of a new design, the first buyer for it will be another potter in my area that will have a poorly done copy of it, priced at half what I am seling it for, available at the next show in our area. Or even better, entered in a jurried event as their new work. If you figure out how to stop this, I expect all of us would like to know how you did it.

GEP likes this

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The good news, when it comes to pottery, it's really hard for somebody else to make your work. People can steal ideas, but to make exact copies that would be mistaken for yours is not likely. Besides, anyone who doesn't have their own ideas is not going to get very far. Don't worry about them. If your business is going to last for the long term, you should be introducing new ideas every year. If one of your designs is being ripped off too much, just stop making it and move on to better things.

 

As for your branding materials, in the US everything you create is automatically protected by the Copyright Law. This doesn't mean people won't try, but you have the right to make them stop. Although, in my career I've seen a few cases where I thought someone was copying me. It wasn't worth the time or expense to fight them, because it was so lame. Again, if a person doesn't have their own ideas, you don't need to worry about them. In one case I thought someone was trying to copy the look/layout of my website, so I just redesigned my website.

 

Mea

gg94 likes this

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Generally if you have a design that you think is going to be 'the next big thing' documentation is everything. Enforcing it ... difficult especially in a medium that has been around since pre-history. As my real job is graphic design, illustration and murals/fine art ... I always need to document. Had to send a few cease and desists too. I normally use http://myows.com/ to be my copyright archive ... since anything original you create is protected by an intellectual property copyright. Many things aren't really worth fretting about since as others have said ... just knock offs, you can change and improve ... they still copy. Really if you wanted a 'product' that is all you ... find your voice ... find the one thing that is all you that even when done well by others, is never going to be you. OR find something to trademark, like your name as a logo and just brand the snot out of your work like it was a purse ... after all ... that is what designers have to do in order to protect their sometimes generic clothing, purses, accessories, whatever.

 

And really ... any working artist worth their salt doesn't rely on one gimmick to get sales ... make it so it's hard for others to copy you by being prolific in your work ... while they spend their time trying to deconstruct dozens of ideas ... you can still be evolving to the next work making them play catch up only to fall behind and to the side.

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You can stamp a small copywrite C like this @but a C instead to cover most rip offs. If someone just alters your idea then its a new idea so really you are on your own.

I would not worries about it.

Mark

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Guest JBaymore

For your trade name..... if you are in the US likely your state has a procedure for that at the State level..... and nationally you can also register a trade name. For me in NH.... the business license is $50 for five years (cheap) which holds the tradename at the state level.

 

http://www.sba.gov/content/register-your-fictitious-or-doing-business-dba-name

 

 

Do you want to be known as producing more of a "commodity" or as an artist producing fine art pieces? If you want to position yourself on the lower pricepoints.... a business name is fine. If you want to be at the higher points.... use your own name.

 

 

best,

 

 

 

.............john

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Guest JBaymore

Can anyone post an image of a truly original ... therefore copyright-able ... functional pottery design?

I'd love to see one.

 

My understanding of this is that the visual appearance (it it truly differes from all others) of the piece may be Copyrighted... but the DESIGN of a functional piece .... must be Patented (a costly procedure)... and prove that it is a "new" thing not previsous "discovered" and already Patented.

 

best,

 

..............john

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There's at least three things that a potter could look into (by hiring a lawyer or reading the Copyright office or the Patent and Trademark office websites) to protect their business:

 

Copyright. There is copyright upon creation, so creative people have copyright without doing anything in particular except creating their own work. But to sue in federal court, the work must be registered. $65 per registration for the visual arts (U.S. copyright office), and pretty much irrefutable proof that the work was created before the registration date. This mostly protects against 1 to 1 copying of the original work, so, it's not very strong, and particluary not strong if there isn't much creative expression in the work.

 

Trademark. To protect the good will developing around a brand, however, register with the Trademark office. These go through some scrutiny, but trademarks last forever so long as they are used. Trademark law protects the name or mark (or a confusingly similar name or mark) from being used by competitors. Like, for example, 'fruit bat pottery' and 'vampire bat pottery.'

 

Design Patents. Finally, for decorative design that is both original, and valuable enough to go through the trouble, there is the design patent with the Patent Office. Patents have a well deserved reputation for being difficult to get. However, there should be functional pots that would qualify for this, so don't dismiss this as impossible. The Captain Picard tea set comes to my mind as the kind of thing a design patent will protect. And a design patent holds out the possibility that it would prevent a greater variety of copying of the ideas in work than copyright protection.

 

I am not giving legal advice people - don't ask me for any. go get your own attorney.

GEP likes this

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(go get your own attorney. )

This is why I have to have a business liability insurance policy .

To many people these days do the above and if you have things you want to keep its what you must do.

As far as coping my pottery for the past 40 years I could care less as its plain hard work with clay -glazes and firing to pull off anything close to a copy.

It isnt rocket science its a whole lot more work.Thats why after all this time its still a learning curve.

Mark

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(go get your own attorney. )

This is why I have to have a business liability insurance policy .

To many people these days do the above and if you have things you want to keep its what you must do.

As far as coping my pottery for the past 40 years I could care less as its plain hard work with clay -glazes and firing to pull off anything close to a copy.

It isnt rocket science its a whole lot more work.Thats why after all this time its still a learning curve.

Mark

 

 

I forgot to mention that there is also trade secret law which can provide some limited protection from corporate espionage - like stealing glaze recipes and formulas for clay bodies. Heh, but that's for people that have those kinds of secrets to keep, and I am not one of them.

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Can anyone post an image of a truly original ... therefore copyright-able ... functional pottery design?

I'd love to see one.

 

 

It's all about the design of the piece not the functionality ... A while back I made a series of robot tiki mugs that I made molds of and subsequently a nice line of cabana ware that did great when I was still in florida. that design and sculpting work was what copyright protected. I'm currently working on another series of them, they to will be protected, documented and over all be copyrighted. Just like any other creative work that someone will do (drawing, painting, illustration, logos, poetry, etc etc etc etc ETC) ... all protected. With pottery it's harder since how many people throw the same darn thrown bowls, cups and mugs? That is literally the same issue that other designers have that do anything functional (clothing, jewelry, furniture, etc.) they depend on design and branding, and even then they can't stop knock offs only constantly change and innovate their designs. In our line we aren't inventing anything new so patents are out ... and if someone does create something new it won't be a potter, but a ceramic chemist who does something crazy like make an argon kiln to fire pure carbon into crystalline ceramic polymers that can be made wafer thin but be strong enough to be withstand a sledge hammer strike. which really only leaves us copyright and original creative ideas.

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Do established potters research forms before they try something new to make sure no one else is currently doing it? How do you handle it if someone contacts you saying you are using their form on your new original pot? What about glazes? Are forms used in instructional videos considered fair game?

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Stephen;

You have a good question here, which requires more than a one sentence answer. As an artist, your name is your brand. If you have been doing it for a while, people will know your work, your glazes, your forms.It is legitimate to continually search for that elusive form or colour. Instructional videos are just that-instructional. You will take what you need from the video, make it, change it and it becomes yours. As an art teacher, I have seen a lot of bad copies of my work, including drawings paintings and pottery. Sometimes I do a double take, thinking, why didn't I smash that bad pot-then you realize -heh ,heh, it's a student piece. I usually don't say anything to the person and the work goes away.There will always be bad knock-offs, and I don't think you can avoid it by registering a bowl form or other shape. Most of these ceramic forms are classic.

TJR.

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