How To Patent A Cartoon Character?
- Dave Jackson
Answer – Everyone who creates original work has a responsibility to think about protecting their intellectual property rights. After all, whether you are a painter, an architect, or a musician, allowing others to “steal” your work while you sit back and do nothing might result in the loss of a significant source of money or notoriety for your work.
Copyright law is a great instrument for preserving your creative product and helping the world recognize that you are the one behind it. Fortunately, copyright law is a tool. Many creative types are taken aback when they realize that the copyright law protects their works the moment they put a pen to paper (or a brush to canvas, or their fingers to a computer), without the need for any paperwork or representation from a legal professional.
Simply putting your cartoons on paper gives you the ability to protect them as original work under copyright law. However, this legal claim is frequently insufficient. How will you be able to verify that you generated a work, as well as the fact that you created it before the infringement, and not after them? Registering your works with the United States Copyright Office, the federal office that is responsible for the administration of copyrights, is the simplest approach available in this situation.
- Even though it is not required, registering with the federal government has a number of advantages, including the following: The process of registration is the most straightforward approach to provide evidence that you were the one who developed a certain work and the date on which you did so.
- If you register your work within five years of its initial publication, it will be considered that you own the work and hold legal copyrights to it.
You will need to be able to demonstrate that you have registered the copyright for your artwork with the Copyright Office in the event that you need to sue someone for infringing upon your artwork. If your work was registered prior to someone infringing on it, or within three months of the publication of it, then a successful lawsuit against your infringer may entitle you to special payments known as “statutory damages,” as well as reimbursement for what you spent on attorney’s fees.
This is only the case if your artwork was registered before someone infringed on it, or within three months of the publication of it. The registration of a copyright on artwork, which is referred to as “Visual Art” by the Copyright Office, is a rather straightforward process. There is no need to hire a lawyer.
You are able to register your cartoon by sending Application Form VA to the United States Copyright Office, together with the necessary deposit papers and the required cost of $45 (amount accurate as of 2019). Take into account the possibility that the registration costs could go up from one year to the next.
- If you have a digital image of the piece of visual artwork you want to register, you can do it online.
- What should you do if you already have a number of cartoons drawn? Do you need to register each one separately as a separate user? Luckily, the answer is no.
- If you are a prolific cartoonist, you may go ahead and register a whole collection of unpublished cartoons for the same basic filing fee as if you were registering just one cartoon.
While you are visiting the website of the Copyright Office, you have the opportunity to obtain further details by downloading Circular 44, which is titled Cartoons and Comic Strips, as well as Circular 40, which is titled Copyright Registration for Works of the Visual Arts.
- In addition to registering your copyright, it is standard procedure to affix the standard copyright notice—for instance, “Copyright 2019 First Name/Last Name”—to every published version of your cartoon.
- This is a good practice.
- Anyone who encounters the work after this will be informed that the copyright is being claimed, the identity of the person claiming it, as well as the date on which the work was initially published.
Due to the fact that this mark is there, it is impossible for an infringer to subsequently assert that the infringement was unintentional. And we can only hope that it deters them from infringing on our rights in the first place!
Can I copyright my original character?
Copyright protection is applicable to both characters that have been merely described in writing and characters that have been portrayed in a visual or graphic form. Copyright protection is available to both characters that have been described in writing and characters that have been drawn.
- It is not necessary to have a visual depiction of the character in question; all that is required is that they have either a unique characteristic or a collection of traits that distinguish them apart from other characters.
- For instance, the merely color-based representation of anthropomorphic versions of human emotions does not qualify as sufficient for copyright protection if there are no other distinguishing characteristics of the characterization.
If the literary character is not shown in a visual form and has only been described in writing in a few lines, then the character is not eligible for copyright protection since there is no visual representation of the character. On the other hand, if the characters, such as Sherlock Holmes and Dr.
- Watson, are deemed to be unique enough, then they are regarded as subject matter of copyright, even though they are only present in written form.
- This is the case with the Sherlock Holmes and Dr.
- Watson stories.
- Comic book characters can be protected by copyright if their physical and conceptual features find a unique expression in graphic form.
This is called “finding unique expression in graphic form.”
How do you trademark a fictional character?
In order to be eligible for a trademark for a character, you need to brand your goods and services using either the character’s name, its likeness, or both. For instance, Disney owns the trademark rights to both the name and picture of the character “MICKEY MOUSE.” If you successfully register a character as a trademark, your rivals won’t be able to use the character’s name or image in any of their marketing or sales efforts for their own goods or services.
How long does cartoon copyright last?
Law Regarding Copyright – The Copyright Act from 1976 provides writers with the right to exercise exclusive ownership over their works, including cartoons and other inventions, for their whole lifetimes plus an extra 70 years. The duration of the protection afforded to anonymous cartoons or those drawn on commission is ninety-five years from the time they were initially published, or one hundred twenty years from the time they were drawn.
Can you patent a character?
The Crucial Role That Character Protection Plays in the Media Industry – It is not hard to grasp why the protection of fictitious characters is such an essential problem for copyright owners regardless of the specific sector in which a writer or illustrator works.
- Companies in the entertainment and merchandising industries rely heavily on the profits generated from the use of fictional characters in their products.
- Characters who serve as the basis for major entertainment franchises and that are often protected by copyright and trademark law are examples of such characters.
The protection that is provided for fictitious characters can occasionally come into conflict with the ability to make fair use of a work in order to remark on or criticize the fictional characters. This occurs rather frequently in situations involving parody.
- One court, for instance, did not grant permission for the X-rated spoof film Scarlett Fever, which featured characters from the book and film Gone With the Wind.
- (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.v.
- Showcase Atlanta Cooperative Productions, Inc., 479 F.
- Supp.351) In this case, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was the plaintiff (N.D.
Ga.1979). (In Suntrust Bank v. Houghton Mifflin Co., 268 F.2d 1257 (11th Cir.2001), the court allowed publishing of a novel that included characters from Gone With the Wind but was written from the perspective of a slave.) The disparity in the two opinions, both of which are based on Gone With the Wind, may be due to the fact that in one work the characters were used to lampoon a broad sexual farce, whereas in the other work the characters were used to provoke discussion about racial stereotypes.
- Both works are based on Gone With the Wind.
- To summarize, the question of whether or not fictitious characters are eligible for copyright protection is a complicated one with a significant amount of cash at risk.
- Considerations about fair use are frequently weighed against the rights of copyright owners to exert control over derivative works by the courts.
If a certain character is more unique and distinguishable from other characters in the same genre, then there is a greater possibility that the character may be granted protection outside of the work in which it was first introduced.
Can I name a product after a character?
There is no overarching principle that states whether you can or cannot. What the program’s producers do to advertise it and how well it is received will determine whether or not they have any rights to the imaginary characters that appear on the show.
Do I need to copyright my comic?
The following is an excerpt from a book that I am currently writing on titled Independent Comic Book Publishing. This book will guide you through the fundamentals of copyright registration. I really hope that you will find this information helpful, even if it cannot be considered legal advice.
- Why Should You Invest in Copyright Protection for Your Comic? You can only devote a certain quantity of time and resources to working on your comic book.
- If the book hasn’t even been written yet, does it make any sense to go through the rituals of buying copyrights, which includes paying money and filling out forms? The response to that question is going to be contingent on your objectives as well as the degree to which you place importance on the advantages of having copyright protection.
If you do not believe that your comic is a commercially viable concept or if you believe that it is viable but for whatever reason you prefer to you are comfortable with the characters and story being used freely by anyone and everyone, then it is possible that registering your comic would not be beneficial for you.
- You are not obliged to register a copyright for your comic under current legal precedent.
- But if you want a higher chance of making a profit from the time, money, and effort you put into developing your concept, registering it will give you a leg up on the competition and increase the likelihood that you will see a return on your investment.
The following are some of the advantages of registering your copyright: Registration (or denial) is required for works with their origin in the United States before a person may sue someone for infringing on their rights. When registration is completed before or within five years of the date of publication, prima facie proof is established about the validity of the copyright and the facts contained in the certificate.
When registration occurs before an act of infringement, the owner of the copyright may be entitled to statutory damages, as well as lawyers’ fees and court expenses. The owner of the copyright can establish a record with the United States Customs and Border Protection through registration, which provides protection against the importation of copies that infringe on their rights from other countries.
The bottom line is that registering provides you peace of mind when it comes to sharing your ideas with other people who are creating things. The on your inquiry letter may be quite effective if you know that you can sue someone for infringing on your intellectual property and obtain financial compensation from anyone who steals your IP.
- Somewhere in the mists of time, an inventive individual made the decision to make an attempt to obtain the advantages of copyright registration without paying the charges associated with the registration.
- A “poor man’s copyright” is when an individual mails a possibly copyrighted work to themself and then uses the postmark to establish the latest date on which the work was made.
This is done in accordance with the notion of “poor man’s copyright.” This is a complete and utter waste of time. Despite the fact that registering a copyright is not required by law, “there is no provision in the copyright law covering any such sort of protection, and therefore is not a replacement for registration.” In addition, there is not a significant financial investment required to submit a copyright application, and the procedure to submit an application for a narrative work is not overly complicated.
- When is the best time to send in your application for copyright? You can file an application for copyright at any time; but, in order to receive all of the benefits described above, you need to submit the application no later than three months after the publication date.
- As an independent publisher who intends to discuss their thoughts with others before the book is published, there are two more dates that should be taken into consideration.
First, you shouldn’t send in your application until after your attorney has finished doing an intellectual property evaluation and you’ve made the decision to continue through with the proposal. Only then should you do so. Second, you should get your application in before you start searching for any outside funding in the book or before you start reaching out to other authors to establish a team to publish the book.
Both of these steps should be done before you submit your application. Keeping this timing in mind will prevent you not only from infringing on the rights of another person but also from having your own intellectual property rights violated by another party. How do you go about registering a copyright? In order to submit an application for copyright, you will require the following three elements: A finished application for copyright protection A copy of the work that you want to protect with copyright The copyright application cost has been paid in full.
The copyright office has provided a helpful training video that will lead you through the procedure, but I’ll cover the fundamentals here so you don’t have to watch the movie. Using the Application Form TX or Form SE, depending on the format of your comic book, is the copyright application form that you need to submit in order to obtain permission to publish comics.
- TX is the standard format for literary works of any kind, whether they have been published or not, whether they fiction, nonfiction, or anthologies.
- The format for magazines and serials is known as SE.
- Choose TX as your format of choice if you intend to publish a graphic novel or a one-shot comic in general.
Continued series ought to think about using form SE. The form may be submitted either electronically or by printing it out, although in my opinion, the copyright office favors electronic submissions. The form TX requires you to provide the following information in order to complete it: The name of the comic book, which is referred to as a “work” in the language of copyright, together with any prior or alternative names.
- Details on each of the writers, including their connection to the project and how they contributed to it (nationality, work for hire, anonymous contributions to the work) The year in which all of the work was finished.
- (You should fill in the Creation Date field if you’re using the Idea Structure form from Chapter 4.) The names and locations of those claiming ownership of the copyright Details on previous registrations (this won’t be relevant if this is the very first time the book has been registered) Details on works that have been adapted from others (This will be applicable if your work is based on a pre-existing work) Details about several types of deposit accounts (It may be in your best interest to open a deposit account if you intend to submit an application for twelve or more copyrights in a given year.) Details on the copyright office’s ability to get in touch with you.
The Initial Deposit Your submission has to contain a copy of the work that you are attempting to get intellectual property rights for. The requirements need the version of the work that is the most recent and comprehensive one available. Since you will be submitting the application for the copyright to your comic before the comic is finished, the first deposit should be the Idea Structure form and/or some version of the screenplay.
- This is because you will be filing for the copyright to your comic before the comic is finished.
- As you work on refining the product, the book you’re writing will, of course, undergo some changes.
- You can utilize the additional forms that are provided by the Copyright Office when you are ready to submit the final work, or you can file a new form if there is a significant modification to the book.
The Charge In 2018, the filing fees for copyright applications are $35 for forms TX or SE if the application is submitted online. The application cost is $85, and it must be submitted on paper. Check the fee page of the copyright office before submitting your application because the fees associated with copyright registration are subject to change at any time.
- This cost will be in addition to any attorney fees that you elect to pay for the registration of your copyright, although in contrast to trademarks, my customers often take care of the registration of their copyright on their own.
- I sincerely hope that was informative.
- Feel free to post any questions or comments you might have down below.
Have fun. Gamal PLEASE NOTE THAT THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS BLOG POST SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED LEGAL ADVICE. IN THE EVENT THAT YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH YOUR COMIC BOOK PROPERTY, TALK TO YOUR LEGAL ADVISOR ABOUT IT OR CONTACT C3 AT [email protected] FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.