LaunchHER Law :: When Imitation is Annoying – Making Copyright Protections Work for You

By

Kara J. Jensen Zitnick, Esq.

LaunchHER

Jensen Zitnick, P.A.

@LaunchHERLaw

The material contained herein is meant as general information only and should not be taken as legal advice.

No attorney-client relationship exists as a result of merely reading this article.

Image courtesy of Shelly Kennedy, be your original best founder

“it is so unfair!
i want to stomp my feet and shout like a toddler (i have, and i do)

copying the work of others is NOT NICE! it’s simple. don’t copy!

be inspired.

be creative.

be ORIGINAL.

be your best.


now – i’m aware that no ideas are truly original. i get that. all artists and creatives seek their inspiration from somewhere. what i’m talking about is an intent to replicate a work, and then market as your own – same material, same size, same colors, same fonts, same description (sometimes even cut & pasted right from the original source!)

as a consumer i see copying all OVER the place! craft fairs, etsy, catalogs, trade shows,- fabrics, figurines, decorative accessories, decor, shoes, blog copy, clothing, magazine lay-outs, wall art, jewelry, – you name it. “just because everyone is doing it” – doesn’t make it right .

–Shelly Kennedy, be your ORIGINAL best founder

Hear, hear! Unfortunately, Shelly’s observation that copying seems to be everywhere doesn’t seem too far from the truth. I see it everyday, and it makes my blood boil.  It’s been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Um… really? To me, it’s not flattering. It’s annoying. It’s offensive.  And – it’s illegal.  So what’s a creative gal to do? Read on for my top three “Copyright Best Practices” you can utilize now to protect your creative works.

1.      Give Notice

Prominently display a short statement on your work that informs would-be infringers that your work is original and protected. It’s that simple. Giving Notice eliminates an infringer’s possible defense that the infringement was unintentional or accidental. Why does this matter? If the potential infringer cannot prove unintentional infringement, you have a much better chance to prove the infringement was willful. If you can prove the infringement was willful, you stand a much better chance of winning statutory damages (AKA, money) in an infringement action.

2.      Register

Formally registering your creative works and obtaining a copyright has so many advantages:  If you register your work and get a copyright, your chance of obtaining those statutory damages (AKA, money) in an infringement situation are so much better than if you do not register your work. Best case scenario, really, is to register your work before the infringement occurs. If you do NOT register your work and obtain a copyright, stopping the infringement after it occurs may result in you spending money to hire attorneys to stop the infringement. And without the registration, you cannot take full advantage of copyright advantages, such as getting your attorney fees paid by the infringer AND statutory damages (again, money).

Bottom line? Register your work right away. Before the copycats have a chance to strike.

3.      Make Your Copyright Work for You

By now you may be thinking registration seems like just a big hassle, because then I have to actually sue the infringer to get the damages (money), and I don’t really want to sue. So I will just take my chances.

Really?

Even if you don’t ever foresee yourself bringing an infringement case against a copycat, registering your work is important to consider for what the registration on its own may do for you. The shear existence of a registered copyright can be enough, in many situations, to scare the infringer to stop the infringing action.  A strongly worded cease and desist letter, including your registration information, as well as the statutory consequences of infringing, may be enough to bring an end to the infringer’s actions. I have seen this theory in action. It’s a good day when the copycats are shut down. Furthermore, when a copycat is faced with defending his claim and is made aware of the monetary consequences of his infringement, via the same cease and desist letter, suddenly settlement becomes a very attractive option to the infringer. I have also seen this theory in action. Never underestimate the power of a registered copyright.

Where to go from here………

  • Register your copyrights.
  • Give notice of your copyright on your blog, website, webpages, blog posts, text, graphics, etc.
  • Actively enforce your copyright protection.

Because we here at LaunchHER take the issue of copyright infringement very seriously,

for a limited time, we are offering

affordable, specially-priced flat-fee legal representation specifically for copyright issues.

Services include:

copyright registrations,

copyright enforcement against infringers,

and copyright notice consults.

For more information contact hello@launchher.com.

©2011 Kara J. Jensen Zitnick, Esq. All rights reserved

No part may be copied or reproduced without express written permission from the author.

LaunchHER, Jensen Zitnick, P.A.

Freshly Launched :: Little Pea

Freshly Launched :: Little Pea

Launched :: Sara McMahon

LaunchHER says :: Sara is a kindred spirit – fashion lover, mom, and dynamo entrepreneur!  Check out her site and you’ll see why we are crazy for her designs as well!

Little Pea

In HER words ::

In a nutshell, I have ALWAYS loved fashion.  Pre-baby days were spent perusing boutiques to curate the perfect outfit.  After having my first child I started focusing that passion on tiny fashions and that’s really when the first inklings of developing a children’s apparel line first started. 

After the birth of my 2nd daughter in 2008 I really started committing to the idea.  Having left the corporate world 2 years earlier to be a full time mom I was starting to get that creative itch.  I wanted something for me, outside the realm of feedings and pre-school runs.  However, I knew I needed something that would provide me with some flexibility in my schedule; hence, Little Pea was born!

I set out to design a line of stylish and comfortable separates that would focus on print and color, sophisticated pieces that worked into the busy lifestyles of modern families.  I really wanted to target families like mine, people with active lifestyles who would be looking for pieces that could easily transition from a day at pre-school to a dinner date downtown. 

I launched my first collection in August of 2009 and I will be totally honest in saying it has been a rough road at times.  You have challenges, set backs, and then triumphs and it is that roller coaster that ultimately makes you appreciate all the work and effort that really goes into building a business.  That said, I can happily announce, we are now going into our 3rd season and Little Pea can now be found in high-end boutiques nationwide. 

It is still truly thrilling every time I ship new product to stores or when customer’s call to let us know the line is selling!  Occasionally we will be sent fan photos and that in it-self always gets me giddy.  Seeing something that I have created out in the world always brings a smile to my face and quite frankly makes all the long days worth the while!

You can find Sara and Little Pea online through their site, and on Facebook and Twitter!

Just for LaunchHER readers :: Enter code LAUNCH to receive 25% off your entire purchase!  Good through 2/25/2011!

New to LaunchHER :: Sampler Village

New to LaunchHER :: Sampler Village

Welcome :: Traci Porczynski

LaunchHER says ::  We’re thrilled to welcome Sampler Village as a new Sponsor!  Enjoy reading about Traci’s shop and how you can get involved with Sampler Village!

In HER words ::

Hi!  My name is Traci Porczynski and I am the founder of Sampler Village.
 
What is Sampler Village? It is a wonderful place for you promote your business & products,  and if you LOVE handmade, it is the perfect place to try samples from lots of amazing shops!
 
Do you have a wonderful handmade shop?
Sampler Village is a gathering of crafters and artisans (Villagers) who send in samples to be in the Sampler Village Samplicious Sampler Boxes.  We want to give you, your products and your shop the exposure they so much deserve. Sampler Village gets the boxes out to potential buyers that otherwise may have not known about your shop.  Our goal is to give you and your shop a boost in traffic; unlike conventional advertising, potential buyers get to try a sampling of what you have to offer! 
Sampler Village also does extensive conventional advertising for you. You are posted on our website as soon as you sign up, and we link to your business through our sites and advertising opportunities. We have a Sampler Village Etsy Team with interactive team page, team blog, team facebook and team twitter. Sampler Village will also allow Villagers to host giveaways on it’s blog. This is a wonderful way to get traffic directly to your shop! Sampler Village is also on Facebook, Twitter and You Tube. We get your name out there!
 
Do you love handmade?
This is a wonderful way for you to experience great products from wonderful shops that you may have not known about otherwise.  Here at Sampler Village our Villagers gather to bring you samples of their finest handmade samplicious products all in one box! We offer our boxes each month. Boxes go on sale the 21st of each month and are limited, so they do sell out quickly.
We offer 3 different boxes…
SIMPLY Samplicious Sampler Box will comed filled with 15-20 randomly selected samples from Villagers participating that month.
LAVISHLY Samplicious Sampler Box which feature a sample from NEARLY EVERY VILLAGER participating that month, this box is HUGE and sells out within minutes of going on sale.
YUMMYLICIOUS TREATS Sampler Box, this is our newest and most anticipated sampler box yet! Filled with only yummy edibles from our fantastic Villagers.
 
We would LOVE to have you come visit us in the Village! You can find us at our Site and be sure to check out our Blog as well!  You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook to stay up with the latest Sampler Village.
Just for LaunchHER readers ::   Enter Code VILLAGEVALENTINE to receive $2.00 off the SIMPLY SAMPLICIOUS Sampler Box!  While supplies last, or through January 31st. 
 

*This is a sponsored feature , if you are interested in more information about becoming a sponsor on LaunchHER please click or contact us {hello@launchHER.com}

LaunchHER PRO :: Marketing 101 {Preparing Product for Market}

LaunchHER PRO :: Marketing 101 {Preparing Product for Market}

It’s a new year! Define your workback schedule to ensure success at Market!

LaunchHER PRO :: Rebecca Kaykas-Wolff

LaunchHER says ::  You may remember Rebecca Kaykas-Wolff as the dynamo entrepreneur behind Petit Couture, who was recently {freshly launched} here on LaunchHER.  Today, Rebecca brings the wisdom that she has accumulated from many years in “Corporate America” and as an entrepreneur, to share with us how to develop a Marketing Plan and Calendar in 2011.  Rebecca has achieved incredible professional success, and we are honored that she is sharing with us today! So, break open a Diet Coke, or pour a cup of coffee, sit down and enjoy!  There is so much wonderful and valuable information below… we’d love to hear your thoughts, too!

Petit Couture

LaunchHER PRO :: Marketing 101 {Preparing Product for Market}

by Rebecca Kaykas-Wolff

Marketing 101: It’s a new year! Define your workback schedule to ensure success at Market!

As you wouldn’t leave home without your calendar (app or paper version), so too consider creating a workback schedule, and cadense, to define some of the tactical items that will make up your products to ensure that your brand is spot on for Market dates.

For those of us nurturing small boutique apparel businesses we generally sell two different ways – wholesale and direct.

Selling direct is relatively straight forward, and with social media technologies taking a forefront in digital marketing easier than ever to elevate your brand and products. For my business, Petit Couture, I’ve largely grown it using Facebook and Twitter. I love the flexibility that self-publishing provides and I LOVE having a more direct relationship with customers. I use the direct portion of Petit Couture’s business to bolster sales (obviously, the margin is better) and build the brand. That said, I just caution to be cognizant of your pricing strategy to ensure that you don’t undercut retail partners with sales promotions they are not able to support themselves. Sharing pricing strategy and discounts is just good business practice, but can be challenging for small businesses to manage. That said, keeping it simple is best and offering discounts on merchandise that is either discontinued, ‘seconds’, or limited time incentives will generally be ok. And, at the end of a season I work with flash sites (e.g. Totsy, Gilt, Zulily, The Mini Social, etc.) for cost recovery purposes and liquidate merchandise at cost.

To sell to the trade, it’s critical to understand retail purchasing cycle, process and event strategy. Generally speaking, buyers for stores (physical and online) purchase a season out and shop either/all National tradeshows or local market days at either sales representative shows (usually in a hotel in regional markets) or at a Market Center like California Market Center where all of the showrooms carry manufacturer’s products. A great online resource for US apparel tradeshows can be found HERE.

Seasonality for wholesalers looks something like this:

Winter (Jan / Feb Tradeshows) ::

Buyers are purchasing Spring immediates and Summer to order

Spring (March Tradeshows) ::

Buyers are purchasing Summer immediates and Fall to order

Summer (August Tradeshows) ::

Buyers are purchasing Fall immediates and Spring to order

Fall (Sept / Oct Tradeshows) ::

Buys are purchasing Resort / Holiday immediates and Spring to order

If you’re going to market it’s important to outline all of your workback (tactical items you have to ‘do’) steps to ensure that you have a successful show either in person or via rep. My checklist for Petit Couture includes (this obviously applies to direct as well):

1.)            Budgeting

2.)            Design and Sourcing (fabric, trim)

3.)            Pattern construction and marker production

4.)            Sample Set production (factor in three rounds)

5.)            Model Selection (fit and photos)

6.)            Photography

7.)            Sales and Marketing Collateral Creation (brochures, linesheets, website, pricing, sales sheets)

8.)            Press/Reviews

9.)            Display and Event Equipment Purchase

The items listed above are a fraction of what goes into market prep – especially for a first show. Most items can be reused, obviously. But, if your business is a seasonal business then collections need to be refreshed with every major season. For companies that manufacture domestically turnaround and workback schedules can be tightened, but for those that manufacture out of the country the turnaround can be tricky. So, factoring in your timeframes associated with each of the general ‘buckets’ above could save you from some surprises. So, for example, a workback schedule could look something like this:

Budgeting (1 week)

Design/Sourcing (1 month)

Patterns/Markers (2-3 weeks)

Sample Set Production (4 weeks)

Certification* (2-3 weeks)

Models (2 weeks)

Photography (3 weeks)

Collateral (1 month)

Press (ongoing J)

Display/Equipment (2-3 weeks)

Shipping (2-3 weeks)

Of course some items happen concurrently, but generally speaking some activities can’t happen without others happening first. And, it’s great to have an at a glance view of your workback schedule so you know the timeframe you need to operate within as you go to market. Based on the above examples, you could estimate about a 3 month cycle leading up to a trade event or web launch if you’re in the direct business only.

The beauty of small business ownership is that it is MUCH easier to streamline process, and there aren’t a ton of people who need to ‘sign off’ on your work. However, in the same turn resources are slim and wiggle room is lean.

Any business requires planning in order to be successful. Some of us more naturally are inclined to pursue our days calendar free and often times, that leads to missed calls, meetings and opportunity. It just doesn’t make great business sense. So, helping define your go to market rhythm will help as you refine your business processes and have a successful market showing.

Good luck this season!

Petit Couture

Be sure to follow Rebecca and Petit Couture on Twitter and Facebook.  You still have time to use the LaunchHER promo code from the Petit Couture {freshly launched} feature as well!  Just enterr code 20FORFRIENDS upon checkout to receive 20% off your Petit Couture purchase!  

Freshly Launched :: Tiny Giraffe Shop

Freshly Launched ::  Tiny Giraffe Shop

Launched ::  Amy McGrath

LaunchHER says ::  What could be more timeless children’s toy than wooden blocks?  Now, add in the amazingly creative Tiny Giraffe Shop twist to this classic toy, and you have an incredible and unique gift! We LOVE this entrepreneur – check out her story below, and you’ll see why!

Tiny Giraffe Photo

In HER words ::

Six years ago I was out every night in NYC music clubs looking for the next top indie band. When I became a mom, everything about my life changed except one thing–my burning desire to be creative. That’s why I founded tiny giraffe.
 
Tiny giraffe is the perfect balance between my passion for creating and love of business. After graduating with a degree in economics, I worked in the music industry in performing rights by day, then managed indie artists and even hit the road with some big names by night. I was fascinated and excited by the music biz because it’s where the arts and business come together in a remarkable way.
Simply Vintage Blocks
 
With the birth of my first daughter, I made the decision to give up working in music to start my most exciting job yet: raising my children. I created tiny giraffe as an outlet for my creative and entrepreneurial energy. I opened my etsy shop in February 2009 on the very night my second daughter was born. I launched the shop, loaded the graphics, and just minutes later was on my way to the hospital to give birth. Crazy, yes, but that’s how I operate! Now, just two years later, tiny giraffe blocks are sold in baby boutiques both online and across the U.S. from NYC to LA. I’ve built lasting relationships with customers and just love that my blocks are the go-to baby gift for so many people.
 
Tiny giraffe is about non-toxic, eco-friendly toys for the modern tot that double as downright adorable nursery decor. We use only safe, kid-friendly materials, and each block is hand-sanded and sealed for durability. Among our most popular products are Farm and Zoo ABC Blocks, as well as Paper Doll Blocks. New to tiny giraffe are personalized drawstring bags to fit any set of blocks. They’re perfect for cleanup and storage, and each bag is hand-stamped with the lucky recipient’s name.
 
For the latest in tiny giraffe news and products, follow me on Twitter
and Facebook .  Please check out our products at www.tinygiraffeshop.com as well!
Just for LaunchHER readers :: 10% off with code LAUNCHHER10 – good now through 2/11.

Freshly Launched :: Petit Couture

Freshly Launched :: Petit Couture

Launched :: Rebecca Kaykas-Wolff

LaunchHER says ::  Check out the Petit Couture line, and you’ll agree with us… it’s altogether fabulous.  We find ourselves drooling over each and every piece – total perfection!  What makes us love Petit Couture even more is the entrepreneur behind the brand – Rebecca Kaykas-Wolff.  A few weeks ago, I had the joy of sitting down to lunch with Rebecca while in San Fran… and was so very impressed with her business savvy, wealth of knowledge, and plan for expanding her brand.  There is MUCH that Rebecca can teach us all – so stay tuned… she’s joining us as a LaunchHER PRO and will be sharing a feature this month!  We cannot wait!!

Petit Couture

In HER words ::

Petit Couture is a socially-minded luxury apparel brand for children. The company was conceived after mamapreneur, Rebecca Kaykas-Wolff, had her third child and was reminded that few modern children’s brands existed that were not only fashionable, but Fair Trade manufactured. Viola! Petit Couture was born and debuted its inagural Signature Collection line featuring the company’s recognizeable “owl” icon which represents wisdom, whimsy and beauty. Since 2009, the company has launched two additional lines which complete the Petit Couture brand look. The girls Ready-to-Wear collection and Travelknits are meant to be companion pieces to the Signature Collection where all can be worn together for play-date to dinner-date with mom and dad flexibility. Petit Couture continues to grow and is sold in high end traditional and online boutiques across the US and Australia. 
Petit Couture
Rebecca Kaykas-Wolff resides in San Francisco, CA where she oversees Petit Couture business operations and spends time with her husband Jascha and children Simone, Sofie and Julien who are routinely seen in Petit Couture ads. She’s an active participant at her children’s schools and has a 15+ year executive leadership background in digital marketing and online communications holding senior management roles with companies such as T-Mobile, HL2, Safeco/Liberty Mutual and Microsoft Corporation.
Petit Couture
Check out the amazing line of Petit Couture products on their site, and be sure to follow Rebecca and her team on Twitter and Facebook!
Just for LaunchHER readers :: Enter code 20FORFRIENDS upon checkout to receive 20% off your Petit Couture purchase

Freshly Launched :: Chic Mama

Freshly Launched :: Chic Mama

Launched :: Adriana D’Arco

LaunchHER says ::  Adriana and Chic Mama not only make delectable, unique gifts… but their amazing woman-owned brand continues to inspire us!  We’ve loved watching Adriana expand her product line and strategically partner with other LaunchHER fav’s, like Pixie Chicago.  She  is one to watch, for sure! Enjoy!

In HER words ::

Chic Mama is a home-based online boutique that sprang from my love of crafting and design.  After working in corporate America for many years, where I faced the daily challenge of balancing my work and family life, I longed for a career that would satisfy my desire to be in the workforce while enabling me to spend more time with my incredible husband and two young children.  I credit my brother and sister-in-law for giving me the inspiration to create my first diaper cake to celebrate the birth of their first child.  It was such a hit at the party; I received many requests for cakes on the spot.  After creating more diaper cakes for family & friends and receiving rave reviews, I decided to turn my passion into a business.

Here at Chic Mama we recognize what a special event the birth of a child is.  Many people are looking for a unique way to welcome a baby into the world. Our mission is to create beautiful, stylish and sophisticated diaper cakes for the modern mom who appreciates all things “chic”. My goal is to create classic, polished and modern diaper cakes that follow the latest trends in baby nurseries and bedding.

This gift provides new parents with their first set of usable diapers, making the cake not only special but extremely practical.  All of our products have been chosen with quality in mind which is why we use only brand name baby items.  Our diaper cakes are a great way to welcome a new family home from the hospital or surprise them at their baby shower.

Chic Mama is continuously growing by adding charming and sophisticated items. We strive to provide our customers with products that are not only unique and stylish but also functional and practical.  We have now expanded to offer hip clothing, designer diaper bags, and unique items for the modern mom.  We strongly believe that even though your priorities may change when becoming a mom, your sense of style should not! 

Just for LaunchHER readers ::  Enter code CMLH001 at checkout to receive 10% off your total order, now through February 15, 2011!

Check out more incredible gifts at the Chic Mama site and be sure to follow on Twitter and Facebook!

Freshly Launched :: Natural Urban Mamas

Freshly Launched :: Natural Urban Mamas

Launched :: Natasha Chiam

LaunchHER says ::  It’s our first {freshly launched} woman-owned brand of 2011!  Natural Urban Mamas is the perfect inspiration for today, as Natasha Chiam shares with us how she saw a need in the marketplace… and made it happen by creating Natural Urban Mamas!

In HER words ::

I have always had a passion for sales and spent many years in both retail and corporate sales roles. I also have a knack for finding hidden gems while doing my own shopping.  Having kids gave me a great outlet for my passion and talent and a renewed appreciation for online shopping!  What I found during my shopping was some amazing and talented mamas making fabulous products for me and my babies.  What I did NOT find was somewhere that had all these great products that I wanted in one place. And so, I did what any new mama fresh into the throes of parenthood would do….I started my own business and Natural Urban Mamas was born!  

I pride myself on supporting, showcasing and selling great products on my site that are made by other mamas and women in business and small family-run manufacturers!!  I have gathered all of my favourite local, Canadian- and North American-made baby carriers and natural mom and baby essentials in one place and I truly believe that we can make a difference in our consumerism and that we can all lower our eco-footprints one tiny step at a time.
Babywearing is at the core of Natural Urban Mamas and has always been a very important aspect of my parenting.  It mattered to me that I was doing the best I could at it and that I had a really nice baby carrier or two (or 12) to choose from! 
I have had amazing mentors and guides to help me in my babywearing journey and I feel that this has made all the difference for me.  I am a Certified Babywearing Educator, trained by the Canadian Babywearing School and I feel that it is important that all parents are taught this invaluable parenting skill and have all the tools and guidance necessary to be successful babywearers themselves.  At Natural Urban Mamas, not only will you find some of the most beautiful and unique baby carriers around, but you will also find the education and resources you need to start your own babywearing journey with your little ones!
Follow Natasha and Natural Urban Mamas on Twitter and Facebook.  You can keep up to date with latest baby-wearing news through her Site and Blog!
Just for LaunchHER readers ::  Enter LLDYJU95LJ to receive 15% off minimum purchase of $50.00.