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    1 Reply Latest reply on Jan 26, 2009 6:47 PM by Lighthouse24

    Design Ownership Rights

    trinity007199 Newbie
      I am a graphic/web designer. I have terms and conditions available on my website for my clients to read. According to my terms I own full rights to my designs and I only grant limited usage rights for my clients to use the file for whatever specified purpose (business card, flyer design, etc). If a client goes and edits my designs or use them for other purposes, (ie., printing a design on a shirt for resale, or turning a flyer into a poster) what is my next legal step? Do I go to small claims or do I have to hire a lawyer? How would I calculate my losses to even present a case?
        • Re: Design Ownership Rights
          Lighthouse24 Ranger
          Yes, you need an attorney. Copyright infringement is literally a "federal case" -- it must be filed and heard in U.S. District Court.

          The first prerequisite the judge will consider is whether or not the work in question was registered with the U.S. Copyright Office prior to the time the alleged infringement occurred. If it wasn't, it a pretty safe bet that the case will not be heard (i.e., you're out of luck).

          If the case is heard, you'll be required to prove that the other party had access to the copyrighted image (which seems easy enough if they signed a license agreement), and that they are using that copyrighted image (or one substantially similar to it) without permission or compensation. "Substantially similar" can be tricky, but the courts have a variety of "tests" that apply, and an intellectual property attorney will know all that.

          If the court rules in your favor, remedies may include an injunction against any further unlicensed use of the image, the impound and disposition of products already in existence on which the image is used, and various criminal and civil penalties. Again, a qualified attorney will know how to quantify and present your damages.

          Hope that helps. Good luck!