The Barefoot Photographer®

a photography blog

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Intellectual Property - Again

Again I find myself dealing with the issue of intellectual property and trademark infringement. I have been down this road before. Many artists deal with issues of intellectual property and others taking or infringing without permission -- and usually (as in this case) permission would not be granted. But in the case of this blog, if someone wished to repost it -- I would need to give permission and it would need to be clear that the repost is my property and even go so far as to direct readers/viewers back to my site.

A couple weeks ago I met someone who asked me a few questions -- he thought we had met at a bridal expo in west Georgia. I told him that it was not me. He went on to say my brand was the brand he remembered and thought it had to be me or someone who worked with me. This is not the first time -- I have heard this before -- recently. It seems there was not one -- but three people using very confusingly similar names as my trademark very close geographically to me. Why would anyone starting out in the photo business now choose "Barefoot" to be in their brand? Years ago when I chose it -- and it means something to me not just a cutesy name -- there were not many and we were all very spread out. 

Where I find myself now is teaching someone the difference between a trademark and the availability of a domain name or business name. Just because it is available does not mean you can use it. Once again I hear the tired old argument of many others are using it therefore so can I -- are you serious? These people that use that one always give me the story of being a mother and having children that they need to support -- so of course, in order to support your children, you need to infringe on my trademark?? And, as a mother, what do you say to your child when they give you that "everybody else is doing it" excuse?

I don't appreciate other "photographers" insinuating things in emails to me because I am protecting what is mine. Business can be a tough place -- you need to know everything about business when you step into it. If you decided to create a new soft drink -- and you name this new drink "Coke by Laura" -- guess what, Coca-Cola is not going to say, "Oh you are fine. The 'by Laura' really lets everyone know that you are different." No, Coke will send you the same type of cease and desist email that I sent over the weekend to three people. Actually -- Coke would send you the registered mail type -- that I am now sending.

These three people are all different. One, love her, sent me a nice reply -- apologized for not realizing and took down the site. Another did send me a negative email asked me to cease and desist from contacting her -- I plan to contact her by registered mail later today. And the third has not responded -- another tactic I am used to from others in the past.

When you are on your own -- you are not Coke with a bunch of attorneys on staff -- you not only create work, market yourself, network, but you have to always be on guard for those who dilute your name/brand or in worst cases take your ideas and work and call it their own.

And speaking of someone else's idea...the photo above was not my idea. I need to give credit where credit is due. Last Sunday at the Serenbe Photography Center model shoot a friend (Anne Berry) had this idea to place the model in the breezeway of the stable. She said this will create a nice silhouette. So we did it -- and here is the great photo.

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