November 7, 2016
Presentation by Michael W. Vary, attorney


Our November meeting featured a presentation by Michael Vary, an attorney specializing in patents, trademark and copyright litigation.  His presentation on “Protecting Your Artwork - Patents, Trademark and Copyrights” is a subject that our members expressed a strong interest in knowing more about.  Michael is a practicing patent lawyer.  He has a PhD in Chemistry from Yale University and a JD from Case Western...a very impressive bio.

After he gave us the required Ohio Supreme Court disclaimer, which was longer than his impressive bio, Mike started his Powerpoint presentation.  Common concerns he often hears are... “I have an idea, I would like protected”... “My friends tell me I should get my art protected”... “I have a phrase I coined and I want to protect it”.  Then, he says the question becomes “What intellectual property protection is best for me”, followed by, “How do I enforce my intellectual property, claims, risk, exposure, etc.”

Mike addressed these points, starting with a slide showing the types of Intellectual Property(IP) and the average cost of securing each.  He referred back to it often.  He discussed types of IP available....patents, trademarks, copyrights, plus mentioned trade secrets, misappropriation, unfair competition, federal and state schemes, as well.

To sum it up, patents and patent enforcement are a ‘big guys’ game!  Here are some tips Mike gave us:  Your company name should be trademarked.  Then, register your trade/service mark in your State.  (The State of Ohio provides a guide for registering trademark or service mark in Ohio.)  Your domain name is like a trademark.  You can use TM or SM (service mark) even if you have not officially filed a registration, but not the symbol “®”.  Copyrights are the least expensive.  But Mike reminded us to do it right the first time, through your attorney, then you can repeat it again, yourself — the subject is complex and his presentation was only designed to give us a quick overview.

Other tidbits....stay away from using college logos.  Famous people like to control the use of their image.  The issue of ‘rights of privacy or publicity’ of famous people may depend on how famous your work of art becomes.  Reference The Associated Press vs. Fairey artwork of President Obama.

Mike suggested that we use an electronic watermark or notice of copyright on our website (Notice:  Artists retain all copyrights to images shown).  Or, Lee suggested making your image small enough so that it can not be enlarged to good quality.  You can also hide your signature in the picture.  If you use another artist’s work as reference, give attribution to the original artist.  Mike made this remark with regards to a free clip art website and he added “This is appropriate only if there is no copyright issue.”

After his presentation, members continued to talk with Mike to get answers to more specific questions.  For the rest of us, it was time for refreshments.  There were 37 members, one new member, plus 7 guests in attendance.

We thank Sandi Richards and Ellen Howard for the evening’s refreshments....a Celebration of the Presidents’ Favorite Foods.  We enjoyed gingerbread, election cake, Ellen’s grandma’s chocolate chip cookies, peanuts, jelly beans, deviled eggs, veggie tray w/o broccoli.  Can you guess which President goes with which delicious treat?