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Member Since 11 Apr 2011
Offline Last Active May 15 2014 04:01 PM

#35677 Protecting trade name and design ideas

Posted by LawPots on 22 May 2013 - 11:18 PM

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.
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#33199 Left at the Altar

Posted by LawPots on 18 April 2013 - 04:04 PM

Don't delete the phone message. Check with your small claims court. File the claim to cover the work (labor and materials) that you had into them. Use the recording as evidence.... the person KNEW that they were being recorded...so it is admissibnle evidence. Clearly there is an admission there that there WAS an order........ verbakl agreement. Not as strong as a written one.... but you might get lucky.

At the least, annoy the crap out of them.



You might want to consult a lawyer. Oral contracts are great for litigators. Much better than written contracts, because there's so much more to argue about. Of course, this isn't so great for you when you see the bill.

This is not legal advice for your problem, but potters in the United States should seriously consider reading, and at least attempting to understand, Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code. It's enacted by most U.S. states to be a uniform law of sales (each state has a version in its statute books). Article 2 of the U.C.C. has a provision that says: "a contract for the sale of goods for the price of $500 or more is not enforceable by way of action or defense unless there is some writing sufficient to indicate that a contract for sale has been made between the parties and signed by the party against whom enforcement is sought or by his authorized agent or broker." - http://www.law.corne...cc/2/2-201.html Because of this provision, I daresay that anyone taking orders from more than $500 of pottery should consider a signed written sales contract or signed work order to be a prerequisite to the sale. Otherwise there is a real danger that your oral contract isn't worth the paper its written on.
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#23598 Do you have a pottery joke to share? | Sept. 18, 2012

Posted by LawPots on 14 October 2012 - 06:22 PM

i remember a cartoon showing an older man in a really fancy corner office in a high rise. he was talking to a young man and said " son, i am really glad that you have found yourself, but couldn't you have decided to be a potter before you finished law school?'

Ok, that just hits too close to home. :)

#21456 allegations about Penland School of Crafts labor practices

Posted by LawPots on 28 August 2012 - 04:34 PM

My self-imposed barriers to responding to this topic have failed me. John Barrymore is correct, John Britt's challenge to Penland isn't so much a "legal" one; it is more of an ethical one. But, while I know and respect Mea, I also disagree with her about Penland's ethical obligations. I particularly disagree with Penland's response.

First, let us not mistake Penland's failures as technical violations; with a technical violation no one is hurt. In this instance, employees were paid less than the law required. The principles that require employers to keep records, and establish state and federal employment oversight over employee pay, is that employees typically do not have the bargaining power, the sophisticated understanding of law, or the money to challenge the unlawful wage decisions of their employer. I think this is where I disagree with Mea - just because an employee can stick up for themselves, not all employees will. That's why we've got these laws in the first place. If you already have an independent source of income, are willing to risk unemployment, or have the resources to fight it, fine. But many ordinary employees don't. Moreover, I don't think it is unusual or unexpected that employees would not realize that their sophisticated (I think Penland qualifies) employer was violating overtime laws.

But that, even, is not John's real complaint at this point. After threatened with exposure for an illegal practice, Penland agreed to pay its former employees compensation for its failures to follow the overtime laws. It did not. Penland was in the best position to inform former employees that it had made the overtime error, and Penland was in a better position than the employees to correct it. In some states, a statute of limitations would not have run until the employees had a reasonable opportunity to discover the error - but, I don't think that is necessarily an issue here. Fact is, Penland avoided a lawsuit by agreeing with the whistleblower to correct its violation, and then proceeded to follow only the bare letter of the employment law by not informing the former employees of the error, and only paying those that came forward with a complaint. It also only did so for the prior two years (something that I find suspicious if the law provides a five-year statute of limitations, but maybe the statute is only two years). Regardless, that was a pretty bum thing to do, even if your lawyer said it was ok, because no matter how I read this, I can't believe the promise was that Penland would do the minimum required by law to correct its mistake.

And now, some years later, Penland has given a terrible response to John B's complaint. Penland's response is: we made a mistake; we corrected it for some emplyees; we didn't correct it for others (the empoyees we didn't contact); we knew we hadn't corrected it for everyone; but, we weren't obligated to by law; so, quit your whining. That's a nasty bit of work because John B. exchanged his opportunity to seek legal redress for a promise from Penland that the overtime payments would be made right. Now, he has found out that it wasn't made right. I can't opine on whether Penland acted within the law, or what John B. could do about it if Penland did not. But, as an ethical matter, the answer is not hard. Penalnd's actions are unethical. And, for breaking Penland's promise to him, John B. has a legitimate gripe.

Of course, a statute of limitations ends old legal disputes. That's valuable. Time limitations permit the courts and the government to focus only on what happened recently. Limitations recognize that records get old, memories fail, and its just too hard to decide who owes what for that stuff that happened more than five (or seven, or ten) years ago. But that's for the conviniece of the courts in resolving disputes. As a lawyer, I think statutes of limitations are important and useful. I think we are better off with them than without. Maybe statutes of limitations even prevent abusive legal actions.

But, that doesn't mean something wrong didn't happen, or that we should forget that it did, just because it happened more than five years ago. A statute of limitations doesn't say that you can't make up for past mistakes if you want to. Penland just doesn't apparently want to try.

#15548 Shoulder Tendonitis/Bursitis

Posted by LawPots on 06 April 2012 - 06:59 AM

I'm too young to have these kinds of issues!

Since I got my wheel at home, I'm noticing that my right shoulder has an ache.... kinda right inside the joint and sometimes the dull pain goes down to my elbow.

I'm 100% certain it's related to more time on the wheel. I asked my friend, an orthopedist's assistant, about it, she said it was probably tendonitis/bursitis of that shoulder tendon/bursa.... But there's not a lot that can be done, short of surgery, which I'm not anywhere close to needing.... that, and NSAID pain relievers (Advil does help).

. . .

When I was a music major, it was clear to me that repetitive stress injuries are no joke, and need to be addressed. When i played, I had a tendinitis problem that led to numbness in my right pinky. Not good. My doctor gave me strengthing extercises, and i tried to reduce the pressure on my wrist. I've not played in years, I think this is partly due to the pain I had. In pottery, when I began to get pain in my left wrist (when centering) I wasted no time in changing my centering technique.

But, I want to bring something up, here, about your post that strikes me as familiar. I know a couple of relatively young musicians that thought they had joint pain and bursitis from playing (in their fingers in one case, and back and shoulder pain in the case of my wife) that turned out to be something completely different. It was a wheat allergy.

Why do I bring this up?
1. You say you're too young (30s? 40s?) - bursitis and athritis isn't so common amoung younger people. So why jump to that?
2. You are 100% certain it's your time on the wheel, but these musicians were 100% certain it was their time playing. They played all the time - of course that what it was; until, they found out it wasn't.
3. You sound like you haven't actually gone in for a diagnosis . . .

Good luck with this, obviously. Acupuncture works on horses, after all; physical therapy has plenty of success stories; even changing your techniques might solve your issue. But I suggest that you try to get a diagnosis from an experienced doctor. (Oh, if you quit eating wheat (bread, cookies, processed foods, ect.) for two weeks, and the pain goes away, that's probabbly the cause. No kidding.)
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#12903 Glaze Chemical Kit

Posted by LawPots on 01 February 2012 - 10:14 PM

When I picked up my first glaze ingredients last summer, I spend hours agonizing over different recipes. I wish now that I had started with the Mastering Cone 6 glaze book in hand. But, what I'd did notice was that nearly all recipes I was interested in had the following main ingredients:

G-200 Feldspar
Ferro Frit 3134
Ferro Frit 3195
Silica (325 mesh)
Gillespie Borate (or Gertsley borate)
Kona F-4 Feldspar
OM4 (Kentucky ball clay)
Whiting (CaO)

With the right colorants glazes made out of these base materials can make just about every color except a chrome-tin red (which is slightly dangerous to make because of the chrome, and can't be fired in the same kiln with other tin-opacified glazes without the risk of messing up the color.). I am sure I am missing a few ingrients the more experienced potters would recommend, as for colorants, along with the usual oxides, consider picking up rutile, which is a colorant I regret not purchasing because it figures large in the Mastering Cone 6 book.